On the day that her “Can We Talk” Mental Health Conference weekend (June 7-9) is set to kick off in Washington, D.C., actress Taraji P. Henson will testify before the newly formed Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide.
Henson, who has proven herself a fierce mental health advocate, will address the group at 9:30 am on Capitol Hill in support of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation’s (BLHF) mission to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness in the African American community and specifically address the increasing suicide rate among black youth.
“This is an incredible opportunity to address the people who can not only help shine a light on this devastating problem in our community but who also have the power and resources to help us truly make a difference in young black lives,” Henson said in a statement sent to The Root. “It is an honor to have the support and attention of members of Congress who are truly invested in working towards a solution.”
As reported earlier by The Root, in the last 25 years, suicide rates have increased among black children aged 5 to 11 years and decreased among white children of the same age.
“We can no longer stand aside and watch as the youth in our community continue to struggle with depression, traumatic stress, or anxiety. Far too often the pain that African Americans experience is either overlooked or dismissed,” Rep. Karen Bass, CBC Chair, said during the initial CBC panel discussion. “That has to end today.”
Henson will be on Capitol Hill the same day that her inaugural “Can We Talk?” conference begins. It will be a two-day event to discuss all aspects of mental health in the black community. The conference will focus on strategies to end the mental health stigma and seek pathways to combine research and resources in order to support those who seek help.
BLHF’s goal is to raise $500,000 to offer free therapy sessions to those who are willing to try it for the first time.
The actress founded the nonprofit in 2018 in honor of her father, Boris Lawrence Henson, who suffered from mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
For more information on the weekend, visit canwetalkevent.com.