May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Within the Black community, awareness about mental health struggles have been raised higher in some of our collective consciousness, but the work to do more is endless. That workload becomes more clear when we think about our shared and individual trauma, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and the systemic inequities that prevent adequate access to healthcare, too.
To chip in, these Black celebrities have served through charity work, launching their own foundations, and amplifying expert and advocate voices in mental health. Some have even opened up about their own mental health healing journeys, helping to remove stigma and normalize getting help within the Black community.
Here’s a look at some Black celebrities’ efforts to support mental health help.
Taraji P. Henson - The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
In honor of her father, actress Taraji P. Henson established the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in 2018 to offer free therapy services, and raise awareness about mental health struggles. The Foundation has partnerships with other mental health organizations, and created scholarships for Black students who are pursuing careers in the mental health field.
Beyoncé - BeyGOOD COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Donations
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Beyoncé gave back to the Black community through her philanthropy BEY Good and their COVID-19 relief donations. Part of the donations included a $6 million gift to support UCLA and the National Alliance on Mental Illness which provides help in Houston, Texas, New Orleans, Detroit, and NYC.
The Lemonade singer also partnered with the NAACP to provide rent relief for families doubly impacted back historic winter storms and the pandemic.
Rihanna -The Clara Lionel Foundation Mental Health Service Fund
Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation supported mental health access through a $15 million pledge to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's Start Small Initiative. "Racial injustices perpetuated by systems built to keep people safe are exacerbating the coronavirus' mental health impact on individuals and families across the United States," a statement from the Foundation read last summer.
SZA - GoodLine
TDE Queen SZA launched a hotline fans can call if they want to cry or laugh in January of this year. The "Hit Different" songstress has been honest about her own mental health journey and tweeted shortly after the announcement that the hotline, named Good Line, had gotten over 60,000 calls. The hotline also includes meditation audio and other resources.
Com & Well - Common
Rapper Common launched a wellness YouTube series in August of 2020 called Com + Well. In six episodes, the Chicago native interviews wellness gurus on subjects ranging from fitness, health, gardening, and cooking. The series, the rapper said, was to give views a "look at a holistic approach to the state of being healthy."
Kendrick Lamar Lends "i" Lyrics for Mental Health Awareness Commercial
Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar lent his lyrics from his song "i" from his acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly album to Kaiser Permanente company to use in a commercial raising awareness about mental health. The healthcare company used the lyrics as part of its "Find Your Words" campaign combating stigma around depression.