We have been focusing a lot lately on breaking the stigma of mental
illness through athletes like Brandon Marshall and Kevin Love. More and
more other famous people have been open in recent years about their
struggles and their families struggles with mental health disorders. Few
people have been more open and passionate than Glenn Close. Listed below is
an article about her leadership on this issue.
CBS NEWS March 18, 2018, 10:00 AM
Changing minds: Glenn Close’s personal battle to destigmatize mental illness
When it comes to CHANGING MINDS about mental illness, and ending its
stigma, few people are more motivated than actress Glenn Close. She’s been
talking to Tracy Smith:
Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction” is one of her most memorable
roles — and is considered one of the great villains of the 20th century.
In that 1987 blockbuster, Close played Alex Forrest, a woman scorned after
an affair with a married man, played by Michael Douglas.
Smith asked, “Looking back on that role now, what do you think?”
“I’m always amazed that when I was researching that role, that no one
brought up the idea that she might have a mental disorder,” Close said, “or
that she might have a behavior triggered by something in her past. I think
if I was offered that script today, I would certainly look at it from a
totally different point of view.”
That’s because today, Close knows something she didn’t back then — that
mental illness runs in her own family. Her nephew, Calen has
schizophrenia; and Glenn’s sister Jessie has bipolar disorder.
Jessie Close said she struggled with metal illness her whole life, before
she was diagnosed at age 50.
Smith asked, “Why do you think it took that long?”
“It wasn’t taken seriously. I lived a very fast and wild life, so nobody
suspected anything,” she replied.
“They just attributed it to – ”
“To *me*. That’s how I was. I’d stay up for two nights, and then I would
think I need at least a few hours’ sleep on the third night. Which, of
course, kicks in depression. And depression for me was beyond blackness. It
was wanting to die. I had this voice in my head that would just not leave
Saying? “‘Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself. Kill yourself,’
over, and over, and over.”
In 2003, a frightened Jessie confided her suicidal thoughts to her sister,
and they got help.
Glenn said she thought she was very close to losing her: “I never knew how
close. Many people who live with bipolar disorder have deaths by suicide.”
The sisters say Jessie’s treatment was successful because Jessie
But they also say far too many people are still suffering in silence.
Glenn said, “When I became an advocate I realized that is a family affair
for one in four of us. One in four is touched in some way by mental
illness. So, it became obvious to me that we have to talk about it.”
That thinking led Glenn and Jessie to start a foundation in 2010. Bring
Change to Mind creates multimedia campaigns
and holds events to get people to talk about mental health.
Glenn said, “To let those that might feel marginalized or silenced by
stigma become part of a group and accepted will save lives. Period.”
“Do you think you’re saving lives?” Smith asked
“Yes. We have a very, very wonderfully active community on Bring Change to
Mind and our whole social network. You come into a community of people that
have lived with what you’re living with and understand what you’re going
Bring Change to Mind also focuses on college and high school students —
the age group with the highest prevalence of mental illness — and the
subject of recent headlines.
Smith said, “It seems like we usually hear about mental illness when it’s
connected to violence, [like] the school shooting in Florida. Does that
present an accurate picture?”
“No,” Glenn replied. “The biggest majority of people living with mental
illness are more preyed upon than preying upon. But it does seem to be that
somebody who does one of these terrible acts is suffering from some sort of
The answer, she says, is more reliable funding for mental health care —
and maybe a little more care for each other. “A lot of times a lot of
isolation goes on, which is dangerous. Be aware of how connected we truly
are, and if one connection is broken, there could be terrible
repercussions. So, we can’t afford to ignore, and to think it’s somebody
else’s problem anymore.”
Glenn Close and her sister Jessie say they’ll keep working until mental
illness is seen as just what it is — another part of being human.
Jessie said, “I never got bunches of roses when I got home from the
hospital. If I had had a heart operation, I’m sure all my friends would’ve
been there with food, and flowers. People behaving strangely or badly is
not considered an illness.”
“But it is,” Smith said.
“It is. Yeah, it is. It’s just an illness, for goodness sake.”