Taraji P. Henson is partnering with American retailer Kate Spade New York to bring mental health support and awareness to women at HBCUs this fall. They will set up “She Care Wellness Pods” at Hampton University on Nov. 2. It is the second university after Alabama State University to benefit from this initiative.

“Our shared vision and partnership with Kate Spade New York has been vital in promoting conversations and offering support to students to take care of their mental health, starting with our successful launch of She Care Wellness pods at Alabama State University. We are proud to open our second installment at Hampton University this fall,” Henson said in a press release.

The partnership is via Henson’s The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, founded in 2018, whose goal is to combat the stigma surrounding mental health in the Black community. Henson said her experience dealing with a lack of resources inspired her.

“When we first had the idea to create the Boris L. Henson Foundation Self-Care Wellness Pods, I knew we had to start with women, and specifically women on HBCU campuses. I can remember through my own experiences with stress and anxiety, not having the adequate support to deal with my issues or the education to name what I was experiencing,” she said.

The foundation’s executive director, Tracie Jade, added Black women are especially prone to these issues.

“Black women, from a very young age, are taught to be strong and dismiss their own suffering, tending to the needs of family and community often at the expense of their own well-being,” she said. “The She Care Wellness Pods seek to change this narrative.”

The pods will be a place that students can turn to for socializing with their peers or to take a mental health break in a quiet space. They will also offer free therapy sessions for women on campus and mental health workshops and programs that include activities such as yoga, meditation or nutrition.
The pods feature artwork by a student to create an environment that inspires joy, peace and serenity.

“The piece I have created reflects the importance of watering yourself based upon what your body and mind need,” T’Kiyah Reeves, a student at Hampton University and the mural artist, said. “As women, we must prioritize our wellness. We must treat our minds with the same love, care, compassion and grace we would give to a tangible seedling to support its growth into something beautiful.”

For Kate Spade New York, this initiative is part of a $5 million initiative to destigmatize mental health and provide women with necessary resources. The company hopes to serve 25,000 Black women at HBCUs through this partnership.

“One out of five adults are affected by mental health diagnoses, and 39% of college students experience a significant mental health issue, Kristie Norwood, Ph.D., the director of Hampton University’s Student Counseling Center, said. “It is our mission at the HU Student Counseling Center to help normalize therapy within the Black community and to educate our students on the importance of self-care and mental health awareness. The Wellness Pods will be part of a multifaceted approach to ensuring the health and wellness of our students.”