Initiative Offers Mental Health Support to Women at HBCUs

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Hampton University started offering the She Care Wellness Pods on their campus this fall. (Photo courtesy of BLHF)

A new program known as She Care Wellness Pods is providing front-line mental health care to Black women at Alabama State University (ASU) and Hampton University, both historically Black universities.

The portable wellness pods are repurposed shipping containers placed on college campuses that serve as a safe environment for a variety of mental health resources. The locations provide free virtual and in-person therapy sessions for students experiencing stress, anxiety, or depression; hangout spaces for quiet time and relaxation, psychoeducation sessions, and peer socialization; and activities led by certified practitioners, including sound and dance therapy, yoga, meditation, and art.

The program comes at a time when mental health service use among White women is more than double that of Black women, according to the 2021 report “Racial/Ethnic Differences in Mental Health Service Use Among Adults and Adolescents” by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

She Care Wellness Pods is a partnership project between The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (BLHF), a nonprofit organization with a mission to eradicate stigma around mental health in the Black community, and Kate Spade New York. Through the project, BLHF aims to provide support to 25,000 Black women at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

The program launched at ASU in April, and Hampton started offering it this fall. At each institution, a student is chosen to create a mural for the pod exterior, one illustrative of the unique identities in that campus community.

“When we first had the idea to create [The] Boris L. Henson Foundation Self-Care Wellness Pods, I knew we had to start with women, and specifically women on HBCU campuses,” says Taraji P. Henson, actor and BLHF founder. “I can remember through my own experiences with stress and anxiety, not having the adequate support to deal with my issues, or the education to name what I was experiencing.”●

This article was published in our January/February 2024 issue.