Taraji P. Henson’s foundation creating wellness pods for women at Hampton

Following a successful debut at Alabama State, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and Kate Spade New York are expanding the initiative to Hampton University in Virginia on Nov. 2. 

Taraji P. Henson continues investing in mental health services, particularly for Black women.

Following a successful debut at Alabama State, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation and Kate Spade New York are expanding the “She Care Wellness Pods” initiative — providing frontline mental wellness treatment to over 25,000 Black women on HBCU campuses — to Hampton University in Virginia on Nov. 2. 

“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,” Henson said in a statement. “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.”

2023 American Black Film Festival - "The Color Purple" Screening -- Taraji P. Henson wellness pods
Taraji P. Henson attends “The Color Purple” screening during the American Black Film Festival at New World Center on June 17, 2023, in Miami Beach. The award-winning actress is continuing to invest in mental health services for Black people, expanding a wellness pods initiative to Hampton University in November. (Photo by Ivan Apfel/Getty Images)

The pods offer various services, including free counseling sessions for women struggling with increased stress, worry, and hopelessness and unique programming from yoga, meditation, art and theater therapy, African dance, and nutrition professionals.

The physical structures also serve as places for students to congregate during the school year and during breaks to interact with friends and reset from daily pressures in quiet settings for stillness, rest, and relief.

“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,” BLHF executive director Tracie Jade said. “The She Care Wellness pods seek to change this narrative.”

Henson established BLHF in 2018 to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health in the Black community. The leading Black mental health advocacy organization offers expert counseling and comprehensive wellness services. 

Kate Spade New York will invest $5 million in programs this year alone to further destigmatize the topic of mental health and to keep helping women and girls in need.

Hampton University’s student counseling center director, Kristie Norwood, Ph.D., stated that Hampton is honored to receive the Wellness Pods, noting that 39% of college students have a severe mental health condition and that one in five adults is affected by a diagnosis.

Each She Care Wellness Pod is created with deliberate design and color choices to foster an atmosphere that inspires joy and peace of mind. The student-designed mural reflects each campus’ unique identity from the student body’s perspective, representing the variety of women and overlapping identities among the local academic community.

Hampton student and mural artist T’Kiyah Reeves said her mural emphasizes the value of watering oneself according to your body’s and mind’s needs.

“As women, we must prioritize our wellness,” added Reeves. “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.”

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