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Taraji P. Henson, Tracie Jade on the Importance of Community, Dealing With Social Anxiety and Imposter Syndrome

Henson and Jade co-host the popular mental health series Peace of Mind With Taraji on Facebook Watch, which recently premiered its second season.

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Photo: Courtesy of Facebook Watch

Peace of Mind With Taraji, the Facebook Watch series dedicated to destigmatizing mental health in the Black community and beyond, premiered its second season on Monday.

Per a press release sent to The Root, this season will see host Taraji P. Henson and her best friend, executive director of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and co-host Tracie Jade continue conversations about mental health with a variety of special guests, including Chlöe of Chloe x Halle, Megan Thee Stallion, Chance the Rapper, G Herbo, Karl Anthony-Towns and Nicole Byer.

Ahead of the second season, Henson and Jade sat down with The Root to discuss the importance of cultivating community as it relates to productive conversations around mental health, combating social anxiety and imposter syndrome, and the one thing that has brought each of them peace during the pandemic. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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The Root: One of the things I’ve found when it comes to conversations about mental health and the personal challenges we face as individuals is that, in addition to creating a safe space, it also helps if you know there’s a community behind you. If you know that someone’s been there before and they can relate and empathize. Why do you think having that sense of community and commonality is important and how can we continue to build that community during this era of COVID?

Tracie Jade: Humans are socialized to be a part of a community, so whenever we’re isolated, it’s a natural, instinctual thing for us to begin to feel lost. We’re socialized to be within reaching distance of each other and for Black people especially. That goes way back to the villages in Africa, everybody was everybody’s child, there were mamas and babas. You didn’t throw grandparents away in an old folks’ home because we understood that those are lifelines that we need.

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So I think having a community and what we’re creating with the show has really opened up to the greater community and seeing what they instinctually remember and what they instinctually need: which is to be around people who are there to support you. And that’s what we’re hoping this show offers.

Taraji P. Henson: When you know you’re not alone, especially when there’s a voice in that group that goes “hey, I understand. That sounds like what I’m going through,”—it dissipates the shame and the fear that you are alone in your struggle. And you’re not, and that’s the joy and beauty of our show. You know how they always go, “celebrities do this too, celebrities wash their own clothes.” Well guess what? Celebrities have mental health issues just like regular people. Guess what? We’re human, just like you! And so we get to show our fans that. Behind that person that you enjoy and you love and you look up to, they inspire you or you may scroll past their page—that’s a real human. I think our show really humanizes celebrities.

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TR: What’s something you’ve learned either about yourself or about mental health that you didn’t know before filming this season?

TPH: I learned this season that I may suffer a bit from social anxiety. I said that I thought that I may have developed it during the shutdown in the pandemic but I think it started before then. I felt like this in Chicago; there would be times when I would be like “I wanna go out,’ but then my brain would raise and think about all the things I’d have to encounter, like fans—but not in a bad way! Like, if I just wanted to go to the store or if I just wanted to walk my dog, I would get up to do regular things and then I’d be like “oh no, well, if I do that I have to cover my face ‘cuz if I don’t someone’s gonna recognize me and follow me back home.” Just things like that. And so then I would just talk myself out of going for a walk.

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I didn’t know what it was. I was just so used to doing it until we had the show about social anxiety and I was like “ding-ding-ding. Bingo” I had never brought it up to my therapist, I was in therapy and it was just normal to me.

Tracie Jade: I think I’m learning that I may have imposter syndrome. I feel like “What the hell are you doing here?” And it’s so interesting because I’ve been an artist my whole damn life, I’ve been in front of audiences since forever. I don’t know a life without being in front of an audience. But I still have moments where I’m like “irl, what are you doing here? You better get yourself back to the hood or somewhere.” And it’s just weird. But I understand that that, too, is a condition that can be treated with tools from your therapist. It’s something that feels like it’s so out of body and that’s a part of anxiety so they’re all connected. So I’m treating anxiety but I’m treating the different layers and how they show up in the world and imposter syndrome is one of them.

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TR: The show is called Peace of Mind. With everything that’s been going on over the past two years, what’s one thing that has brought you both peace of mind during this time?

TPH: Therapy, doing this show, and for me, it was my salon. Losing myself in another way of being creative. Making wigs, doing nails, and makeup and hair. If my girlfriends came over, the joy on her face because she feels so pretty again. You know, so those things for me.

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Tracie Jade: I would say meditation, it’s become a regular part of my regimen now. And my daughter. I’m so extremely proud of her. She’s independent now, so I’m an empty-nester. I would say “Hallelujah!” but then I’m like “where is she?” But yes, I love getting phone calls from her and seeing all the positive things she has going on, on social media and all that stuff. That makes my heart smile, knowing that the isolation didn’t take her out.

The second season of Peace of Mind With Taraji is available to stream now on Facebook Watch or on Taraji P. Henson’s official Facebook page, with new episodes dropping weekly.

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Correction as of 3p.m. on 10/11: An earlier version of this article misspelled Tracie Jade’s name. It has been updated.