Featured on Essence. Author: Paula Rogo
Taraji P. Henson held the inaugural “Can We Talk?” Benefit Dinner for her foundation this past Friday Night in Washington D.C., a continuation of her work towards building mental health awareness in the African American community.
The star-studded black-tie event for the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation kicked off a 2-day conference dedicated to supporting African-Americans who seek therapy but may not otherwise have the means to cover costs.
The likes of Charlamagne Tha God, Morris Chestnut, Traci Braxton, Roz White, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and BLHF Youth Ambassador Isan Elba were on hand for the dinner.
The organization, named after Henson’s late father, was launched last year to fight the stigma and bring awareness to mental health issues within the African-American community. BLHF partners with other organizations who offer mental health services in order to provide education and even services within the prison system.
Actress, singer, and activist Jenifer Lewis was honored with the inaugural “I Rise” Award for her trailblazing efforts to combat the stigma around mental illness and seeking mental health services. Dr. Altha J. Stewart, the first African American and the first woman to be named President of the American Psychiatric Association, was the keynote speaker for the night.
The benefit dinner came just hours after Henson testified in front of the newly formed Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health.
“In the African-American community, we don’t deal with mental health issues,” Henson said in her testimony. “We don’t even talk about it. We’ve been taught to pray our problems away. We’ve been demonized for coming out saying we have issues. And we have trust issues.”