Actress Glenn Close and Family to speak at 5th International Stigma Conference in Ottawa

Actress Glenn Close and Family to speak at 5th International Stigma Conference in Ottawa

Calgary, Alberta, May 3, 2012 - Award-winning actress Glenn Close will be a keynote speaker during: Together Against Stigma: Changing How We See Mental Illness, the 5th International Stigma Conference being held in Ottawa from June 4-6.

Hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the World Psychiatric Association Scientific Section on Stigma and Mental Illness, the conference will bring together mental health researchers, policy makers, and service users from around the world. The conference hopes to serve as a catalyst that will mobilize and focus the actions and work of others to fight the stigma that surrounds mental health problems and illnesses.

In 2009, Glenn Close helped to launch Bring Change 2 Mind, an organization working to eradicate the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. The organization evolved out of Close's realization that her younger sister Jessie, and Jessie's eldest son Calen, were in a life-and-death battle with mental illness. Close, Jessie and Calen will all be guest speakers at the conference.

"That there is mental illness in my family puts us squarely at the heart of the global human family," says Close. "I am honored to be a part of this year's International Stigma Conference and am thrilled to also be celebrating the formation of Bring Change 2 Mind's distinguished Advisory Council, who will aid us in translating the science of stigma and discrimination into powerful, informed messaging."

Close, who has received six Oscar nominations, three Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes and three Tony Awards, is also known for her role as a mental health advocate. This year she was given the National Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation's Leadership Award for her work with Bring Change 2 Mind.

"We are truly honoured to welcome Glenn Close to our conference," says Micheal Pietrus, Director of the MHCC's anti-stigma initiative Opening Minds. "Her commitment to fighting stigma and removing misconceptions about mental illness is inspiring to us all."

More than seven million Canadians will experience a mental health problem this year. Researchers have found that stigma is a major barrier that prevents more than two-thirds of people with mental illnesses from seeking help. For more information on the conference click here.

About the Mental Health Commission of Canada

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together, we are sparking change.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

About Opening Minds

Opening Minds is the MHCC's anti-stigma initiative designed to change the attitudes and behaviours of Canadians towards those living with a mental health problem or illness. The initiative is currently evaluating anti-stigma programs across Canada to identify which are successful at changing attitudes and behaviours related to mental illnesses. The successful programs are replicated elsewhere in the country. Opening Minds is also working with journalism schools and the media to identify myths and misconceptions associated with mental illness to create a network of change and decrease stigma.

Kristin Bernhard
Communication Specialist
Office: 403 385 4066, Cell: 403 620 2339

The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.