Entertainers and professional athletes are among the groups of people who recognize how critical it is to prioritize one’s mental well-being. From blogs to social media, they are constantly in harm’s way for public scrutiny. Despite the trials and tribulations that arise, there are still examples in the industries of figures who take the negativity and transform it into something for the greater good.
Here are six familiar faces who have made it their duty to advocate for mental health.
Following her own public battle with putting her mental health over competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Simone Biles joined Cerebral to help make resources more accessible — especially for underserved communities. The star gymnast became the leading online mental health provider’s Chief Impact Officer in October 2021. In addition to her leading role, Biles has invested an undisclosed amount in the company.
Taraji P. Henson
During the peak of COVID-19, Taraji P. Henson was quick to ensure that there was a virtual space for Black families to keep their mental health intact in the midst of turmoil. With the notion of fighting against mental health stigma, the actress launched the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign. Her continual efforts to help the community are tied to the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, “named after her father, who had his struggles with mental health after serving in the Vietnam war,” as previously reported by AfroTech. On June 4 — National Black Mental Health Professionals Day — the foundation is set to “celebrate the hard work and sacrifice of Black Mental Health Providers,” according to its website.
Naomi Osaka became a leading example of what it looks like to put your well-being first no matter what when she withdrew from the French Open in 2021. Nearly a year later, the tennis champ reportedly partnered with Modern Health — a leading global workplace mental health platform — to further destigmatize mental health care, especially for the youth. As the Chief Community Health Advocate of Modern Health’s Modern Community, Osaka helps people learn different ways to protect their minds, such as meditation.
Learning directly from her parents about the importance of her mental health, Venus Williams has been a part of spreading the knowledge to the Black community in her partnership with BetterHelp and the Women’s Tennis Association. Through the collaborative effort, $2 million was given away in free online therapy sessions. The overall mission is to help remove the stigma for the next generation, so they can then be proactive in their mental health journey.
Like her sister Venus, Serena Williams is also an avid advocate for mental health. In February, the tennis vet teamed up with Prince Harry for a conversation about “the power of Mental Fitness through a bold commitment to Inner Work.” The open dialogue’s goal was to focus on mental wellness.
Charlamagne Tha God
When it comes to radio and TV personalities, Charlamagne Tha God is one who consistently promotes spearheading discussions around improving Black mental health. He went on to launch the Mental Wealth Alliance (MWA), which is “a foundation created to accelerate, destigmatize and center state-of-the-art mental health care and outreach across the country,” per a previous AfroTech report. Generational support is the driving force behind Charlamagne’s founding of the foundation.