Actress Taraji P. Henson was in tears on a TV interview as she tackled mental health issues among African-American teenagers. Picture: AP

Actress Taraji P Henson was in tears on a TV interview 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 to kids, urging them to speak up about anxiety and other related issues, reports aceshowbiz.com.

The interviewer Maria Shriver joined Henson 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".

WATCH: Taraji P Henson on her Foundation, mental health and changing lives

Henson 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 realised 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 4% of all trained counsellors in the US are black, and Henson is now offering scholarships through her new foundation to help students who want to follow a career in therapy.