Shattering the Stigma of Mental Illness
By Tai of Allsup
Glenn Close is one of Hollywood’s most celebrated actresses. She’s known as a six-time Oscar nominee, winner of many awards and star of films like Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons. But her latest role is making a big difference for those who suffer from mental illness.
In recent years, she has opened up about her own family’s struggles with mental illness and helped launch Bring Change 2 Mind, a nonprofit organization that aims to eliminate the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental illness.
I had the privilege of meeting Close when the Karla Smith Foundation brought her to St. Louis. One of Allsup’s community-based representatives serves on the board of the Illinois-based nonprofit that supports families affected by mental illness and suicide.
Close recently spoke at the fifth International Stigma Conference, a three-day gathering of mental health professionals, educators and others inOttawa,Canada. Both her sister, Jessie Close, and nephew, Calen Pick, have lived with serious mental illnesses.
“Is it possible for someone to really understand a mental illness and show compassion? Not without a personal experience, I think, unfortunately, because stigma can be fear,” Close told the audience. “But we’ve come so far in other areas of fear that I know that if we keep pounding on the fear, the stigma, it will get better.”
Making Mental Health Progress
If we take an honest inventory, I’m sure every one of us has been touched by mental illness at some point in our lives.
Consider these resources for making change happen:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers its Education, Training and Peer Support Center and routinely partners with Close’s Bring Change 2 Mind.
- Call NAMI’s Help Line at (800) 950-6264, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Eastern time, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Or, visit Allsup’s Disability Resource Center.
We need to shatter the stigma associated with mental illness, instead of letting the stigma shatter lives.
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