Guests were invited to purchase her personal dresses, shoes and purses in a special Los Angeles fundraising event on Saturday. The foundation, named after Henson’s late father, focuses on erasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues, particularly in the African American community, per variety.com.
The outlet also notes how Henson’s son struggled with mental health after his father was murdered in 2003 and her father died two years later.
The Empire star said her search for a psychiatrist for her son was challenging because she wanted “someone that he could trust, someone that looks like him and could understand his struggle” but her options “wouldn’t be African American and it wouldn’t get accomplished because he felt guilty for the things he was saying.”
“It was like looking for a unicorn, and the reason that happens is because we don’t talk about it in our community; it’s taboo, it’s looked upon as a weakness or we’re demonized for expressing rage for traumas we’ve been through,” Henson told Variety. “I have a lot of white friends and that’s what got me going. They say, ‘You don’t talk to anybody? Girl, I’m going to see my shrink every Thursday at 3 o’clock.’ So I was like why don’t we do that in our community?”
Later on in her speech, Henson revealed that she has also sought mental health treatment.
“I’m here to tell you that when they tell cut and the cameras go away, I go home to real problems just like everybody else,” she said, adding that she wanted to be open about her struggles so “people go, “Oh wow she’s going through it? Well, I’m alright then.”
The money raised from the event will be used to bring art to the bathrooms of inner-city schools to help combat depression, bullying and suicide — because school bathrooms are “where fights happened, jumps, that’s where you got bullied because the teachers weren’t in there, so I thought that was a great thing to do to flip it. You go there to get your head together and instead of seeing hate stuff or whatever madness kids put in there, we decided to turn it into art,” Henson said.
The initiative is a partnership with artist Cierra Lynn.