Back in February, Silver Linings Playbook star Bradley Cooper teamed up with former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy to do a press conference on the movie industry’s progress toward “removing stigma of mental illness.”
(If you remember, the DBSA named Kennedy, who was the author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and co-founder of One Mind for Research, an honorary advisory board member back in 2012.)
Glenn Close launched Bring Change 2 Mind because she has a personal connection to mental illness; her sister, Jessie, has bipolar disorder. Joey Pantoliano launched because he manages what he calls brain “dis-ease.” Most of us admire these celebrities for being so open about such stigmatized conditions and advocating for awareness, research, and acceptance.
However, not everyone is comfortable with celebrities taking on advocacy roles — especially those celebrities who don’t have any personal experience with mental illness — and that is exactly what Bradley Cooper has done during his global Q&A sessions about Silver Linings Playbook and mental health.
Cooper isn’t taking it lightly, though. He wasn’t just promoting a movie back in the winter; he was promoting mental health awareness and education.
I think if I could do one thing it is to raise awareness, because I was ignorant before I did this movie.
During the conference, Cooper talks about having similarities with his character, Pat, and recognizes that “if life dealt a different set of cards,” he could have been the one dealing with court-ordered therapy and restraining orders.
He also admits that he can’t ask everyone to imagine what put themselves in his shoes, as he was in Pat’s shoes, but he can ask that we all be “open to not walking away from somebody or turning away from somebody” just because they make us uncomfortable. Usually, it’s our ignorance about their condition that makes us uncomfortable, and education is one of the many ways to eradicate mental illness stigma.
Joining Cooper and Kennedy is Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen. Dahlen founded the nonprofit Give an Hour, which provides free mental health care to military personnel and their family members who’ve been affected by Iraq and Afghanistan. Also present is Director of Health Policy for American Progress, Topher Spiro.
Enjoy the video folks, and let me know what you think about Bradley Cooper’s advocacy speech in the comments!