Actress Glenn Close Fights the Stigma of Mental Illness
Hope and help for people with mental health issues
- Glenn Close: Mental Illness: The Stigma of Silence
It is an odd paradox that a society, which can now speak openly and unabashedly about topics that were once unspeakable, still remains largely silent when it comes to mental illness.
Hope and help for those that struggle with mental health issues
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 57.7 million people are afflicted with a mental illness in our country today. In addition, mental illness is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada. The incredible negative stigma surrounding mental illness adds greatly to the pain of a person with a mental illness. The video and article below offer a look at a new mental health organization whose primary purpose is to fight the stigma of mental illness. Below that are sources I used to gather information about this organization. Also offered are the most prominent mental illness organizations in our country today who are also striving to fight stigma in a variety of different ways, and which also offer help and resources to those who suffer and their families. Further down are a list of good books and workbooks on mental illness.
There is hope and help for people with mental health disorders. You are not alone. Believe it!
Glenn Close's mental health organization strives to combat stigma
Bring Change 2 Mind is a mental health organization collaboratively created by actress Glenn Close, the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, Fountain House, and Garin and Shari Staglin of International Mental Health Research Organization. The primary goal of bc2m is to combat the stigma attached to mental illness by dispelling common misconceptions about mental illness, providing information to the public about mental illness, and openly talking about the subject. Their other purpose is to provide mentally ill consumers and those who support them to obtain "quick and easy" access to information and support.
Ms. Close speaks out candidly about how mental illness has touched her family in an Oct 21st, 2009 article in the Huffington Post entitled: Mental Illness: The Stigma of Silence. "As I've written and spoken about before, my sister suffers from a bipolar disorder and my nephew from schizo-affective disorder."
She goes on further to say, "There has, in fact, been a lot of depression and alcoholism in my family and, traditionally, no one ever spoke about it. It just wasn't done. The stigma is toxic. And, like millions of others who live with mental illness in their families, I've seen what they endure: the struggle of just getting through the day, and the hurt caused every time someone casually describes someone as "crazy," "nuts," or "psycho". "
Ms. Close, after observing the hurt her family members went through created by the stigma of mental illness, decided to take action. Thus, Bring Change 2 Mind was born. Recently Bring Change 2 Mind joined forces with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in NAMIWalks, which according to NAMI is "a fund raising event to raise money and awareness about our country's need for a world-class treatment and recovery system for people with mental illness." It is NAMIWalks and Bring Change 2 Mind's goal to bring hope and recovery to those suffering from mental illness and their families.
The Bring Change 2 Mind website provides several little videos produced and directed by actor and director Ron Howard which were filmed at a major Bring Change 2 Mind event in New York City's Grand Central Station. Thousands of consumers (individuals with a mental illness) and their family members donned t-shirts with the name of their illness across the front in an effort to bring awareness to the public about mental illness. Many that participated, including Ms. Close's sister Jessie, felt somewhat fearful and vulnerable wearing the t-shirts with their mental illness splattered across the front for audiences and observers to see, which just re-confirms how the fear of stigma effects those who suffer. But the participants in this film project faced their fears and boldly marched through Grand Central Station holding hands, and smiling.
Also on the website, there is a place to share your story, either as a consumer, or as a family member. The stories are moving and powerful and proof positive that consumers are deeply impacted by the stigma of mental illness. Also on the site under the Learn the Facts heading. is a Facts v. Fiction page in which the common misconceptions about mental illness are provided, with answers to dispel those myths. Here are a couple of examples:
- FICTION: People with a mental illness are often violent.
FACT: Actually, the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are no more violent than anyone else. People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of crime
- FICTION: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.
FACT: A mental illness is not caused by personal weakness—nor can it be cured by positive thinking or willpower - proper treatment is needed
Also under the Learn the Facts heading you will find information about depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
Under the Find Help Category, you will find resources to contact during a mental health crisis. This is followed by a Be Involved page, and a Store page selling t-shirts and pendants. About Us gives 3 very brief paragraphs explaining the organization, and finally there is a Contact Us page.
Almost everyone has been touched by mental illness, either by having an illness themselves, or having a family member, co-worker, or friend with an illness. The statistics are staggering. You might be wondering what can you can do to help bring awareness about mental illness to help fight stigma. A good start is to research all you can about mental illness and the various disorders so that you can inform people with accurate facts about mental illness. Going onto the BringChange2Mind.org website and clicking on the Be Involved page will also provide information on how to help. Also, at the bottom of every page are links to a few of the major mental health advocacy organizations that will inform you how to get involved. If you, or a loved one have a mental illness, please believe that there is hope, and help, and there is no need for anyone to walk through it alone.
© Lori Colbo 2011. All rights reserved.
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- The Stigma About Mental Illness: Dispelling the Myths and Learning the Facts
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Mental Health Organizations
- NIMH Home
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is the largest scientific organization in the world dedicated to research focused on the understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders and the promotion of mental health.
- Depression and Bipolar Support Allicance
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the leading patient-directed national organization focusing on the most prevalent mental illnesses. DBSA is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
- NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a nonprofit, grassroots, self-help, support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illnesses.