Taraji P. Henson launches mental health program to help Black children

Taraji P. Henson launches mental health program to help Black children
Taraji P. Henson (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Bang Media)

In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month, actress Taraji P. Henson has launched a campaign to help Black students deal with mental health struggles and racial bias at school.

The Hidden Figures star told People that she developed The Unspoken Curriculum to help Black students recognize signs of trauma and give them the tools to speak up and seek help.

The program spans six weeks and began Monday, May 17 and will run through June 21. The program includes discussions with mental health specialists and virtual hangout spaces managed by therapists and teachers. Students can use the outlet to speak out about their mental health and racial experiences that they’ve endured in school.

“We’re in a state of emergency right now. But it takes us to change it … we can’t hide the ugly, you’ve got to deal with the good and the bad if we want to see change,” said the actress to People.

Henson also revealed that she used to teach prior to becoming a force in Hollywood and that Black students are often mislabeled.

“I taught a special education class, but all of the students were Black boys who had all of their mental and physical capabilities. These children came from traumatic home situations, and the school labeled them ‘special ed.’ These students were only in the 4th grade, and they would grab my hand and say, ‘Ms. Henson! Ms. Henson! There was a shootout nearby last night. Look at the bullet holes in the wall,’ and laugh. That’s trauma. That’s not something to celebrate or normalize,” she said.

Henson helped create the curriculum through The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, her mental health nonprofit, and public relations firm Edelman. Parents and kids can register for the virtual therapy sessions and get more information at www.borislhensonfoundation.org/unspoken. Check out the short film detailing several Black children handling racism in school on the following page.

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