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Taraji P. Henson sobbed her way through a recent TV interview with Maria Shriver as she tackled mental health issues among African-American teenagers.

The Empire star recently launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after her father, who battled post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, and now she has started visiting high schools to speak with kids, urging them to speak up about anxiety and other related issues.

Shriver joined Taraji as she met with students at Chicago’s High School for the Arts, who explained that kids who talk about mental health problems are considered “weak”.

The response upset the actress, who cried as she told the Good Morning America correspondent, “I don’t ever wanna get to a place, where I can sit and be comfortable spewing facts and numbers about children as young as five years old taking their life. That should never be normal.”

Taraji took her fight for more mental health funding among the African-American community to Capitol Hill over the summer, calling the problem a “national crisis” as she fought back tears, and she told Shriver she first realized there was a big issue when she tried to find a black therapist for her son, Marcel.

“Trying to find a culturally-competent therapist was like looking for a purple unicorn with a gold horn.”

Only four per cent of all trained counsellors in the U.S. are black, and Taraji is now offering scholarships through her new foundation to help students who want to follow a career in therapy.