“No change can happen without action.” ~ Glenn Close at the Society for Neuroscience Conference
Although this past weekend was an exciting one for many reasons, on Saturday November 13, 2010 something huge happened – a game changer, if you will. It is something that can, and most likely will, create a future in which shame is replaced with dignity, misinformation with truth, discrimination with understanding, and isolation with community. Can anyone guess what I’m talking about now? If not, then you’re probably not a fan of BringChange2Mind on Facebook (which you should be), but if you can, then you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook page or reading the Huffington Post!
So, what happened this past weekend? Well, Glenn Close – along with her sister Jessie Close and nephew, Calen Pick – were asked to open the Society for Neuroscience’s 2010 Conference as the “Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society” keynote speakers. At the end of their fabulous speech, Glenn, Jessie and Calen launched…(drum roll, please)…The BringChange2Mind Principles!
What are The BringChange2Mind Principles? You can read about them here but, if you want me to quickly explain them, I guess I can do that too. In the past, various organizations have made commitments to change their policies and behavior, which includes altering discriminatory practices in South Africa by signing the Sullivan Principles, ensuring equality for the LGBTQ community by becoming Signatories to the Equality Principles, and caring for the environment by adhering to the CERES Principles. It is in this spirit of positive change that the BringChange2Mind Principles will make a real difference for people in their families, workplaces, and communities.
After the exciting launch of The BringChange2Mind Principles Glenn, Jessie and Calen sat down for a Q+A with Dr. Michael Goldberg, President of the Society for Neuroscience, and Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute for Mental Health. This casual conversation focused on ways to de-stigmatize mental illness in our society, how the new principles can help fight the stigma, and the ways in which scientific research can help in this fight. They also took questions from the audience.
The most interesting thing I’d like to point out is the fact that there seemed to be more comments than questions. They came in the form of resounding support for Glenn, Jessie, Calen and the whole BringChange2Mind organization. Now, I know most of you are used to getting tons of encouragement about your advocacy work from those around you, but it’s incredible to hear it from the people who are doing advocacy work from a different perspective – from people who are in the laboratories finding ways to possibly prevent mental health concerns like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
Aside from the epic launch of The BringChange2Mind Principles, Glenn, Jessie and Calen also spoke on Friday night at the International Bipolar Foundation’s event, “An Evening of Change with Glenn Close & Jessie Close”. The Close Family decided to speak from the heart on Friday night and focused on the importance of family when addressing mental illness, and their journey with BringChange2Mind. The night ended with a “Fund-a-Need”, which helped raise money for the International Bipolar Foundation and BringChange2Mind.
Overall, the weekend was a huge success. The Close Family was able to meet incredible people ranging from the top neuroscientists to dedicated mental health advocates; they were able to connect with the individuals who they fight for on a daily basis; and, what I think is the biggest feat, Glenn, Jessie and Calen were able to launch The BringChange2Mind Principles in front of an audience of thousands of people.
Speaking of The BringChange2Mind Principles, have you taken the pledge? If not, I encourage you all to go here and take the first step towards decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.