Taraji P. Henson Is Launching Free Virtual Therapy Sessions For Black People Struggling Through The Coronavirus Pandemic
“In the African American community, we’ve been taught to tough it out, hide our suffering, but this is something none of us has ever experienced and no one should suffer in silence.”
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The Empire actress has launched the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Campaign, which she announced via Instagram, under the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF), a nonprofit which she founded.
“This campaign is for underserved communities experiencing life-changing events related to or triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Henson said in her IGTV video. “In the African American community, we’ve been taught to tough it out, hide our suffering, but this is something none of us has ever experienced and no one should suffer in silence.”
Henson says "licensed, culturally competent clinicians" will be offering their services for the program.
Virtual therapy sessions will be available starting April 15 on the foundation’s website. According to the organization, people in need of these services will have access to up to five therapy sessions for free. Meetings are on a first-come, first-served basis.
The What Men Want star created BLHF in 2018 to honor her late father and the nonprofit's namesake, Boris Henson, who suffered from mental health challenges after serving during the Vietnam War. Their mission is to change “the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging those who suffer with this debilitating illness to get the help they need.”
"It’s our priority to provide care to those in need, who do not have accessibility or the ability to afford culturally competent therapists. We also need to remove the stigma around mental illness. It’s okay not to be okay," BLHF executive director Tracie Jade Jenkins told The Hollywood Reporter.
Henson’s announcement comes after a report from ProPublica that found Black communities are facing higher rates of hospitalization and death from the coronavirus because of widespread underlying health conditions, as Blavity previously reported. Cities with large Black populations such as Chicago, New York City, Oakland, New Orleans and more are seeing a sizable amount of infections and deaths.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned that Black people are at a higher risk of complications if they contract COVID-19, as Blavity previously reported.
The @Surgeon_General says African Americans are at higher risk for COVID-19 and revealed he has high blood pressure & a heart condition.— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 7, 2020
"I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID. That's why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread." -- @JeromeAdamsMD pic.twitter.com/J4VnOSmOfK
“When you look at being Black in America, people, unfortunately, are more likely to be of low socioeconomic status, which makes it harder to social distance. We know that Blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and I've shared myself, personally, that I have high blood pressure," Adams said on CBS This Morning.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a press briefing Tuesday that health disparities have always existed but they are being exposed during the pandemic.
“When you have a situation like the coronavirus, they are suffering disproportionately. It’s not that they are getting infected more often,” he said. “It’s that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions, the diabetes, the hypertension, the obesity, the asthma, those are the things that wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate.”
Fauci added that when the coronavirus outbreak is contained, we will still need to address the inequalities in the healthcare system the Black community faces.
HBCUs are facing many challenges managing coronavirus responses and need your support. Donate to the UNCF fund today to help students impacted by the pandemic.