Published on May 9th, 2019 | by Jerry Doby0
Taraji P. Henson’s The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Launches ‘Can We Talk?’ Conference
Taraji P. Henson’s The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF) officially announced the inaugural “Can We Talk?” Conference and Benefit Dinner which will take place on June 7-9 in Washington, D.C. The conference and corresponding dinner will provide attendees with an opportunity to engage with notable mental health experts, policy-makers, and thought leaders as they exchange ideas around normalizing the conversation of mental illness in the African-American community.
“Mental illness is a huge issue in the black community. The suicide rate of young people has doubled in the last 15 years, this is a national crisis,” said Taraji P. Henson. “We are working to normalizing the conversation in our communities at a younger age to eradicate the stigma. We have to start somewhere – and I believe openly talking about it is a good place to start.”
The 2-day conference will kick off with a 300-person benefit dinner on June 7 with a keynote address delivered by Dr. Altha J. Stewart, the first African-American and first woman to be named President of the American Psychiatric Association. Following a Community Conversation with BLHF Founder Taraji P. Henson and a special conversation led by BLHF 2019 Youth Council Ambassador, Isan Elba, geared towards engaging the youth community, conference guests will be invited to participate in a V.I.P. reception and dinner where BLHF will honor those who have made a significant contribution to the lives of African-Americans through art, justice, and community service. Special guest speakers and performances to be announced soon.
During the benefit, BLHF will present the “You Got This!” Fundraising Campaign, an interactive live stream digital media experience where attendees, therapists, and influencers will engage an international community on mental health topics, encouraging them to try therapy. Proceeds from the benefit will go towards “You Got This!” in an effort to support access to therapy for African-Americans who may not have the means to cover expenses. BLHF’s goal is to raise $500,000 to offer free therapy sessions to those who are willing to try it for the first time.
“One of the primary reasons African-Americans do not get the help they need is because they simply can’t afford the costs with many people choosing between feeding their families and getting the mental health support they need,” says BLHF Executive Director Tracie Jenkins. “Our mission with ‘Can We Talk?’ is to both augment the mental health conversation and empower our community with the resources, knowledge and confidence to obtain the mental health support they need.”
Following the Benefit Dinner, the “Can We Talk?” Conference will feature conversations with therapists, social workers and counselors, medical doctors, thought leaders, researchers, influencers and policy makers on the front line of cutting edge work in the field, who have come together to collectively identify national trends that have been barriers to mental health treatment in the black community. The conference will focus on strategies to end the mental health stigma and seek pathways to combine research and resources in order to support those who seek help.
BLHF’s regional and national partners will offer total mental health services and preventative care to community members in need. BTST, a CARF accredited licensed mental health agency provides comprehensive programing and integrated care through a wide range of services to children, teens and adults throughout the state of Maryland. EHE Health offers preventative care – giving people lifestyle skills geared towards optimal health, performance, productivity, and longevity with offices across the nation. Our community partners, NAMI, The DC Office of Cable Television and Film, and the Kennedy Center, will support our efforts to spread the “stigma-free” message to the community.
BLHF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on eradicating the stigma around mental health in the African-American community. One in five Americans suffer from mental illness. African-Americans are the least likely population to seek treatment. One of the key pillars BLHF is to provide urban schools with additional resources to address the mental health needs of African-American students. Since its launch, the organization has conducted several listening sessions with therapists, social workers, educators and mental health leaders across the nation in order to identify trends in education, faith, and family, that have perpetuated the stigma around mental health in the black community.
About The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 2018 by Taraji P. Henson and led by Executive Director, Tracie Jade Jenkins. The foundation is named in honor of Ms. Henson’s father, Boris Lawrence Henson, who suffered with mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. We are committed to changing 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.
Featured Image Photo Credit – Academy Awards