The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, founded by actress Taraji P. Henson, has teamed up with Kate Spade New York to launch the ‘She Care Wellness Pods.’ This is a new program that aims to reach over 25,000 Black women on HBCU campuses with frontline mental wellness care.

The foundation, which is named after Henson’s father who struggled with his mental health without any resources, was founded in 2018 to eradicate the stigma around mental health in the African American community. 

The ‘She Care Wellness Pods’ will feature physical structures that will offer a range of mental health resources, including:

  • Free mental health virtual and in-person therapy sessions for women students experiencing an exacerbation of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Hangout spaces will provide psychoeducation sessions that allow students to connect with peers and mental wellness professionals to address students’ specific challenges.
  • Self-regulatory practices including yoga, meditation, art, sound, and dance therapy, all provided by certified practitioners.
  • Workshops and seminars on a variety of student-requested topics.
  • Rest pods for silence and respite, to reset from daily stressors.

While the foundation is launching the pods for female-identifying people, He Care and They Care Wellness Pods are set to roll out as part of the foundation’s Meeting You Where You Are initiative.

“You’ve got to take care of the women first because we drive change. Women are the change in most cases and so if you want to save the world, you save the women first,” Henson told WWD. “Black women, we suffer from a myriad of disparities and health, pay, social injustices. No one really hears us when we’re saying we don’t feel well or we’re not doing well mentally today, so we want to provide safe spaces for these young women.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health OMH, about 10% of Black women feel like “everything is an effort” compared to 6% of white women who feel the same way.

Henson’s goal with the wellness pods is to expand the foundation’s impact and reach younger students.

“We’re always trying to eradicate the stigma and how you do that is you get people talking about it. If you have these pods on campus, there’s no way you can ignore that. You’re gonna see more people and more students want to take an interest in their mental wellness,” she said.

In addition to fostering conversations about mental health, Henson also hopes that the pods will spark a deeper interest in a career in mental health for the students.

“Hopefully, we’ll see a rise in African American and Brown students wanting to start a career in the mental health field because we don’t have enough therapists, clinicians, and practitioners,” she said. “When you talk about trying to get culturally competent therapists or finding a Black therapist or psychiatrist who can understand what you’re going through on a day-to-day basis, we don’t have it.”

The first pod will be installed at Alabama State University, as The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation will continue to launch She Care Wellness Pods at more HBCU campuses this spring.