Glenn Close Fights to End Mental Illness Stigma With Bring Change 2 Mind

Billy Kidd for Variety

Glenn Close is one of Variety’s Power of Women New York honorees. For more profiles on the honorees, click here.

Glenn Close still remembers the day that her younger sister approached her with a terrifying secret: “I can’t stop thinking about killing myself,” Jessie Close confided to Glenn roughly 10 years ago.

Billy Kidd for Variety

After doctors diagnosed Jessie with bipolar disorder, and Jessie’s son, Calen Pick, with schizoaffective disorder, Close was determined to learn more about mental illness. She volunteered at the New York recovery center Fountain House, and in 2010 started the nonprofit Bring Change 2 Mind to raise awareness.

“We thought the best thing to do was work against the stigma that surrounds mental illness,” Close says, noting that one in four people are affected by it. “It’s a chronic illness like anything else.”

Bring Change 2 Mind aims to start a conversation. Close tapped her friend Ron Howard to direct the org’s first PSA, which stars the Oscar-nominated actress alongside Jessie, as well as other people wearing the names of their diseases on T-shirts. Since then, an estimated 1 billion have viewed online the PSAs, which have featured Wayne Brady and NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall sharing their stories. The Close sisters have used many forums to talk about their mission, from a Washington, D.C., summit to NPR to People magazine.

Close says she recently had an epiphany when she saw her nephew. “He would wear these dark glasses. He had this frightening look in his eyes. I was telling him, six months ago, he had lost that look. He said, ‘Do you know what that was? I was terrified.’ ”

Jessie says she couldn’t be more proud of her big sister, adding, “I would say Glenn is really my hero as far as stepping up to the plate and doing something about the stigma.”

Adds Pamela Harrington, the executive director of Bring Change 2 Mind: “She was really one of the first public figures to speak out in mental health advocacy world. She’s been a really great beacon of hope for so many people.”

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  1. I have a short film about mental illness that is premiering in the International New York Film Festival this spring/summer. It is a film about 9 teens with mental illness and how they feel their illness makes them feel in society. It is a film about teens begging to be seen, begging to be heard. We created the film to help raise awareness as well as raise money for anyone who is suffering with mental illness but unable to pay for help. If anyone on this thread has a connection with a mental health organization that could use our film on their site we will gladly donate our film to them. We are dancing4change on fb. Please don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone. So proud of Glenn Close for the foundation that she started.

  2. Debra says:

    I am Type II Bipolar. I also have gone through the days of thoughts of killing myself. I finally did try last year and woke up in a behavioral health hospital. I was so upset I was there because I truly wanted to die because my children threw me out of their lives because I have a mental illness. My life has been so crappy. No pill can take away the pain of your children forgetting who you are.

  3. I have been trying to contact many persons of notoriety whom fund as a result of their own experience with the w the MH advocates and document the different responses they received vs the General Public. In no way am I attempting to address the socioeconomic issues ( which one could pretend does not exist It does and is natural sociological phenomenon NOT MY ISSUE) I simply what to #1) address the issues which the ‘celebrity ‘ status prevents them from actively helping others #2) How they are limited in doing so by the nature of the disease, a well managed condition, and the expectation they wish to revisit their suffering pre diagnosis and treatment as opposed to moving forward #3) My proposal that although I faced the issue in their position am forced to revisit it for my daughter under the exact opposite position #4) I now must acquire funding, support groups, and incurr expenditures she does not have, and deal w the Federal Government red tape, Big Bussiness, The Medical System and The Courts while continuing to remain healthy by myself

    I am and have discovered this is impossible Therefor am asking for HELP! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
    Thank You
    Jean McHugh Reiner and an for
    Samantha D McHugh

  4. WTF does Retard Kardashian have to do with POWER WOMEN??? She looks more PLASTIC than ever. Who gets it? Her moron Husband gets honorary Doctorate and she’s included with REAL women? hmm we need help as a country.

  5. Kim Carter says:

    Why would you include Kim Kardashian with these other wonderful Ladies

  6. Beth Connelly says:

    I have schizioaffective disorder thank you Glen Close

  7. Kon Joo Lee says:

    I think she may be sleep above the water veins..Three water veins may across the head(brain). If she move the sleep site, She may be feel better..

  8. Kimberly Wanzer says:

    My mum and Irish grand mum were bipolar. I’ve just written a book about my discoveries about grand mum and the impact it has on the family. If you’d like to get it, it’s called THE LONGING and you can see it on, and the publisher I hope too to help in getting the mental health issue in front…too many people are needing help with the health care system we have and can not get it.

  9. Thank you, Glenn Close! You are helping so many people realize that it can be talked about!

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