The Silver Linings Playbook for Destigmatizing Mental Illness

Bradley Cooper on the USS Ronald Reagan in 2009. Photo By Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

BY MATT GLEASON
Mental Health Association in Tulsa

You may know actor Bradley Cooper as his slick character in “The Hangover” flicks, but those in the mental health community know Bradley for his best role of all — the one he plays every day in ending the stigma of mental illness.

Bradley first earned great acclaim in the mental health community when he starred in “Silver Linings Playbook” as a sports fan battling bipolar disorder.

During the recent National Conference on Mental Health in Washington, D.C., Bradley spoke about how “Silver Linings Playbook” opened his eyes to mental illness, and how it transformed him into a passionate advocate for our cause.

“It was really as if a veil had been lifted,” Bradley said. “I realized that people I knew, people I loved and cared about it, were coping with this in silence. One of my closest friends was bipolar, and I really had no idea. People I was working with on the film, they had children and parents who were struggling with this, and it really never occurred to me.

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“I think that’s what helped me to see that all of us are touched in a real meaningful way with this illness, and I think it is up to all of us to help. And I want to help. I want to do something about it. I want to be a part of the solution.”

Bradley Cooper’s Playbook for Destigmatizing Mental Illness

1. “Talk about it. Bring awareness to it. It’s about helping people understand that they are not alone.”

2. “Help people find the courage in themselves to take that step to seek treatment. And that’s partly by raising awareness about the availability, and the quality of mental health treatment.”

3. “I think we all have to make some fundamental changes to our culture. You know, it’s always going to take courage for people dealing with mental illness to seek treatment, but it shouldn’t take that much courage as it does today. It’s less about the people who are dealing with the illness, and it’s more about the people who aren’t. It’s about the rest of us who can work together to destigmatize these issues, feel a genuine empathy, and to take meaningful action.”