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Taraji P. Henson launches mental health initiative for Black women

Taraji P. Henson

Award-winning actress, Taraji P. Henson’s nonprofit, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, recently announced a mental health campaign for Black women.

Known as the “She Care Wellness Pods,” the new program was created by Henson herself alongside the executive director of the nonprofit, Tracie Jade Jenkins, as part of their larger “Meeting You Where You Are” initiative. Also, a partnership with Kate Spade’s nonprofit, Kate Spade New York, the “She Care Wellness Pods” program focuses on ensuring mental health wellness for young girls and women on HBCU campuses.

With the new initiative, the nonprofits will provide a variety of resources to the students. Along with in-person therapy sessions that are available to the students at no cost, hangout spaces for the students to interact with mental health professionals will also be offered. The initiative will also provide workshops and places for the women to rest when they feel overwhelmed. Yoga, meditation, art classes and dance therapy will also be made available to help with any mental health struggles.

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“In this revolutionary endeavor, Black women on HBCU campuses will be afforded the opportunity of empowerment through the modality of self-regulation experiences,” said Henson in a statement. “Soon, they will enter a world, essentially not designed to support them. A world where the value of women and women’s rights are still being challenged.”

“This is a space for respite, preparation, and for actualizing joy,” she added.

The new initiative comes as mental health struggles continue to rise among Black students. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, nearly 34% of Black students reported that their struggles with mental health issues, such as depression, affected them to the point where they couldn’t function well enough.

For help with challenges like depression and anxiety, Black students are more likely to turn to school services. According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Black students were “600 times as likely” to look for mental health help at schools.

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While mental health struggles afflict many people, Black women are amongst the most affected by issues like depression. Per the American Psychological Association, Black women are nearly two times more likely to say that they’ve been struggling with extreme sadness all the time. Black women are also over twice as likely to report frequent feelings of hopelessness. Despite these higher statistics, Black women are only “half as likely” to receive mental health help.

“You’ve got to take care of the women first because we drive change,” said Henson per outlet WWD. “Black women, we suffer from a myriad of disparities and health, pay, social injustices. No one really hears us when we’re saying we don’t feel well or we’re not doing well mentally today, so we want to provide safe spaces for these young women.”

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