Actress Glenn Close Works to Destigmatize Mental Illness

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

Glenn Close

As the World Health Organization (WHO) notes, nearly 450 million people are currently experiencing a mental illness around the world; this equates to one in four people. Despite the high numbers of people who experience mental illness, there are many stigmas surrounding the topic, preventing people from finding support and seeking help to work through their obstacles. Actress Glenn Close, who played the role of a woman scorned by others after having an affair in the psychological thriller “Fatal Attraction”, has been working diligently to change the minds of many who fear mental illness or believe that those with mental illness are less than. For Ms. Close, de-stigmatization is important because of her experience with mental illness in her own family.

Glenn’s nephew Calen has schizophrenia, and her sister Jessie has bipolar disorder. As noted on CBS News, Glenn emphasized that awareness became even more important to her once she realized exactly how many people experience mental illness. She stated,

When I became an advocate, I realized that is a family affair for one in four of us. One in four of us is touched in some way by mental illness. So, it became obvious to me that we have to talk about it.”

Glenn Close brings to light an important subject – why don’t people talk about mental illness? There are a number of reasons:

  • Inaccurate media portrayals cast a negative view on those with mental illness
  • Many individuals believe that people can just “snap out of” a mental illness or episode
  • Fear drives people to separate themselves from others by labeling those with mental illness as “lazy”, “incompetent”, “crazy”, “violent” and more

With the aforementioned stigmas surrounding mental illness, how can we undo the damage? Many people have worked to overcome it; a cover story published in Monitor Staff and featured on the American Psychological Association states that in order to reduce stigma, those with mental illness should be regarded as competent individuals of society – this will garner more respect and support. Ms. Close has done just that. She started a foundation with her sister Jessie in 2010 called “Bring Change to Mind”. The foundation creates multi-media campaigns and holds many events to get people talking about mental illness.

A study published in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills found that meeting people who had a mental illness was linked with individual’s weakened tendency to associate those with mental illness to the harmful stigmas mentioned earlier. Glenn Close is working to produce those same effects through media campaigns that promote individuals with mental illness rather than warn against them.

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