Taraji P. Henson’s ability to recognize mental health struggles made her stronger.

The Oscar-nominated actress has been vocal about experiencing hardship in the past, even considering taking her own life. Now, she’s gotten better—and has a continued desire to fight for herself.

“I unplug. I just unplug,” Henson, 52, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I got a new puppy. He makes me happy. I grow vegetables and watch TV. I like to cook. I go on vacations with my girls. We take girls’ trips.”

Henson added: “I fight for my mental health because I want to live. I want to live. I want to live.”

And along with that desire to fight, Henson recognizes the many things that have benefited her mental health — and ultimately what keeps her going.

“Being real with yourself and not being so strong all the time,” she shares. “I folded my arms like the kid in the corner saying, ‘I don’t want to be strong today. I need help.’ ‘I don’t feel well.’ ‘No, I’m not going to do this, I don’t feel well today.’ Speaking for myself. And my mental well-being.”

Henson also makes time to nurture her mental health through solo travel. “When I feel like I’ve hit a wall in my career and life, I choose to do something about it. I unplug,” she says. “I took myself to Bali. Yes. And I literally ate, prayed, loved myself and I’m not the same. I’m a much better person since that trip.”

Although Henson has found many ways to get through her mental health struggles, she wants to help others do the same.

Henson’s Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is an organization that aims to break down the stigma surrounding mental health in the black community. Currently, they are teaming up with Kate Spade New York for her newly launched She Care Wellness Pods.

The program aims to reach more than 25,000 black women on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), providing frontline mental health services such as free therapy sessions and yoga classes in their wellness pods.

“We chose Kate Spade as our first partner for the She Care Wellness Pod because of their deep commitment to helping women live their full lives. And they recognize the important role that mental health plays in that,” explains Henson.

Taraji P. Henson Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Mental Health Pods.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

Also touting the partnership is Liz Fraser, CEO and brand president of Kate Spade New York.

“Our social impact mission is to empower women and girls around the world with mental health at the heart of our vision. Women’s and girls’ mental health has long been underfunded, undervalued and unrecognized, and we are proud to partner with Taraji, [Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Executive Director] Tracy [Jade Jenkins] and the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation,” said Fraser.

Taraji P. Henson Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Mental Health Pods.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

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“Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen firsthand how interconnected a woman’s positive mental health is with her empowerment, and as we begin our 30th anniversary this year, we’re doubling down on our commitment to directly reach more women and girls. Resources and Support access,” he added. “Through our partnership, we will work with the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation to provide more than 25,000 young women across HBCU campuses with accessible resources through the SheCare program and make a real difference in their daily lives.”

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, texting “STRENGTH” to the crisis text line at 741741 or visit 988lifeline.org.

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