Taraji P. Henson is committed to changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community.

The Empire actress recently set up The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to assisting people affected by trauma and depression.

Named in honour of Taraji’s late father, who suffered mental health challenges as a result of his tour of duty in the Vietnam War, the star hopes her services will help break taboos.

“It was born out of necessity. You know, traumatic stuff happened to me and my son,” she told U.S. InStyle magazine of the foundation, referring to the murder of her son Marcell’s father William Lamar Johnson in 2003. “You can’t just pray it away. I don’t care how strong you are. It gets to you, and if you don’t deal with it, it manifests itself in ways you don’t even know.”

With her organisation, Taraji is determined to make therapy more accessible. And she has been impressed by the way in which high-profile men have showed their support.

“The black men stepped up. Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Tracy Morgan, Chance the Rapper all stepped up. I called, they answered,” the 48-year-old recalled. “Snoop told me, ‘Baby girl, that’s important. What you’re doing is important.’ Tyrese said, ‘You’re making it cool to seek help.’”

Meanwhile, Taraji spoke about her upcoming films, such as The Best of Enemies and What Men Want, too. She went on to explain that representation remains a critical aspect when she is selecting projects, and she is dedicated to championing diversity in Hollywood.

“I don’t care if you’re young or old or what colour you are, art is so powerful… You can show things to people you’ve never met and you broaden horizons. I don’t take for granted what I have, and I try to use it in any way I can, positively,” she smiled.