The “Empire” star got visibly emotional while chatting with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta about her new mental health program, in partnership with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which aims to help black Americans and people of color who are suffering during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“When COVID happened, my heart went out and I just knew that people were suffering and they’re suffering alone in isolation,” she expressed. “I’m blessed. I can call my therapist. I can pay for it without thinking about it, but what about those who can’t?”
She continued by adding that, knowing that people don’t have the same benefits she has and the stigma around mental health, she had to do something. Psychologist and mental health researcher Alfiee Breland-Noble also noted during the interview that “African Americans and people of color are disproportionately affected by not only the virus but the secondary mental health impacts associated with the virus.”
“So we created a virtual fund-raising campaign for free sessions for people of color and, you know, disadvantaged neighborhoods,” Henson said, before pausing and getting teary-eyed. “I’m so nervous. There is so much going on right now. My brain is just…”
“When Covid happened, my heart went out and I just knew that people were suffering and they’re suffering alone in isolation.” – Actress Taraji P. Henson on ending the stigma of mental health in the African American community. #CNNTownHall https://t.co/XAkJYdQ2CE pic.twitter.com/dBW4LbmHf9
— CNN (@CNN) May 29, 2020
While many have died of COVID-19, Henson also touched on the death of George Floyd — a Minneapolis man who died after a police officer held him down by the neck with his knee for an extended period — and the impact it’s made around the nation.
“It’s just like, it won’t let up, you know? It’s like I’m trying to stop a bleeding wound and it just keeps bleeding, you know? But I’m raising money to help those who can’t,” Henson said while in tears. “It’s tragic and it’s traumatizing. And I mean, at this point it seems like we have to save ourselves.”
“My hope is that we eradicate the stigma around mental health in the black community,” she added, explaining that they’ve already helped so many people with her campaign.
ET spoke with Henson in April via video chat, where she also shared that she has good and bad days during quarantine.
“Today’s a good day,” Henson said. “I have some days where I feel like I’m gonna crack up. I know you’ve seen that one video where that girl is like, ‘I hate this house!’ That’s how I feel some days.”
See more in the video below. For more information on the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and the mental health campaign, click here.