This month, Taraji P. Henson is asking everyone to pull up to the “Joy Joint.” In honor of Oct. 10 being World Mental Health Day, the actress and founder of The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF) launched “BLHF Joy Joints,” an initiative encouraging people to create spaces centered around joy, celebration and healing.
“You look at life a little bit right now, it could be daunting, but we’re choosing joy because it’s our birthright,” said Henson in an interview with Fox 5 DC. “We’re getting the entire nation involved. And that means getting your crew together. It could be corporations, it can be at work; it can be you and your family, your friends, and just find what makes you happy.”
BLHF’s Joy Joints are a part of the organization’s larger efforts to combat loneliness, an epidemic that has grown in recent years. Through this initiative, the organization, which works to dispel mental health stigmas in communities of color, hopes to reach 100,000 hours of collective joy. Participants can sign up on the BLHF Joy Joints website so that they can clock in and track their hours of joy. Regardless of the chosen activity, Henson, who portrays Shug Avery in the upcoming film adaptation of “The Color Purple” musical, explained the name “Joy Joints” was inspired by early 1900s juke joints like the ones her character performs in.
“In the Black community, back in the day, we used juke joints to celebrate, and we were going through tough times,” the actress added. “But we still learn to find and tap into our joy because, like I said, it is our birthright.”
In 2018, the star founded BLHF in honor of her late father, Boris L. Henson, who struggled with mental health following the Vietnam War. Though her father’s mental health issues went untreated, Henson was inspired to create the foundation while grieving her father’s passing. Frustrated by the lack of culturally relevant mental health resources, BLHF works to bridge the gap through various initiatives like Joy Joints and its HBCU Wellness Pods.
At the end of the month, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will host “BoBo’s Joy Joint,” a grand finale celebration named for Mr. Henson’s former moniker. The private event will take place in Washington, D.C.
“Loneliness and isolation may cast a shadow, but when we come together, we ignite the light of joy that dispels the darkness, just as we have for many years in the past,” said Henson in a press release shared with theGrio. “It’s in our unity that we find the power to combat isolation and celebrate the beauty of human connection.”
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