Taraji P. Henson's therapist helps her ''tremendously''.

The 'Empire' actress admitted she and her 24-year-old son Marcel struggled to find someone they felt ''safe'' talking to after his father, William Lamar Johnson, was murdered in 2003 and her own dad passed away shortly afterwards but now she's grateful to have someone she trusts to help her when she's in a ''dark place''.

She said: ''It's tough when you are in a dark place. Thank God I had really incredible people around me... since I've seen a therapist, it helps me tremendously.

''I have a son that I've been raising by myself. His father was murdered here in Washington, D.C. My father died two years later. That was very traumatic for us, and when it was time to start looking for someone that we felt safe talking to, it was like searching for a unicorn, a purple one, so I felt compelled to jump into action.''

Earlier this week, the 48-year-old star spoke in Congress about the need for more mental health resources for African Americans and admitted she thinks being an advocate for the community has become her ''purpose'' in life.

She told 'Extra': ''People are afraid to be vulnerable because in our community it's looked upon as being a weakness...

''It's easy to sit around and complain, but you have to be the change you want to see. I just hate to know people are suffering in silence when you really don't have to.

''This is a passion for me... I've always been told to find my purpose in life, and I thought it was acting... But acting led me here. Acting gave me the platform and the mic to say something and to be a difference, so I feel this is my purpose.''