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McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, will present award-winning actress and mental health advocate Glenn Close, her sister Jessie Close and her nephew Calen Pick with the hospital’s highest honor, the McLean Award, for their work in reducing the stigma of mental illness through BringChange2Mind (BringChange2Mind.org). The award will be presented on Friday, May 7 during the hospital’s annual dinner at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston.
After 25 years of playing leading roles in Hollywood, Glenn Close’s latest role is that of mental health advocate. In 2000, Glenn’s sister, Jessie, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder—a diagnosis that came shortly after Jessie’s son, Calen, was treated for schizo-affective disorder.
As a result of her family’s experiences, Glenn spearheaded the national initiative BringChange2Mind.org, a non-profit organization and website that works to reduce the stigma of mental illness and provide easy access to information on psychiatric illness and support to individuals and their families. This is the first effort of this magnitude in United States history.
“Jessie and my nephew Calen are my heroes,” says Glenn. “Our greatest weapons against stigma are our voices and the strength of our community. If we can change a mind about mental illness, we can change a life.”
In 2009, Glenn, Jessie and Calen, along with hundreds of volunteers, set out to do just that—change minds and educate the public about mental illness. Working with Oscar® Award-winning director and producer Ron Howard, who volunteered his time, the Close family and mental health advocates from across the country developed a powerful public service announcement (PSA) about mental illness and its stigma. The PSA is the first in a series designed to give people a forum in which to share their personal stories—and ultimately change people’s minds about mental illness.
“I hope this campaign will comfort people who are mentally ill and provide them with encouragement to get help if they haven’t already done so. I also hope our efforts help those who do not have a psychiatric illness realize what those of us who do, go through,” says Jessie. “We face a stigma that can be as painful as the illness itself.”
The PSA, which airs on television daily across the country and can be seen at BringChange2Mind.org, has encouraged a national dialogue about psychiatric illness and how those with these illnesses are perceived, notes McLean Hospital President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD.
“The McLean Hospital community, including doctors, nurses, patients and families, has been applauding the Close family’s efforts to combat the stigma of mental illness and to provide patients and families easy access to information through BringChange2Mind,” says Rauch. “Their courage is inspiring and their message resonates with the important work we do every day at McLean.”
The McLean Award is bestowed annually to individuals who have furthered the public’s understanding of psychiatric illness and mental health. Previous recipients include ABC journalists Lee Woodruff and her husband, Bob Woodruff, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, one of the first people to walk on the moon.