Mental Health advocate Jessie Close wants to change how people talk and think about mental illness. An ambassador for Bring Change 2 Mind, a not-for-profit organization founded by Jessie’s sister, actress Glenn Close, Jessie fights stigma and misunderstanding to create a clearer picture of mental disorders. Her own struggle with bipolar disorder and alcoholism provides the backbone to a courageous story and an enlightened perspective on the state of mental health in America.
Life has been a whirlwind for Jessie, who lived with anxiety, confusion, and paranoia. As a teenager, she dropped out of high school and contemplated suicide. Jessie recalls, “I lived many years without medication, then, at age 45, I was put on two medications for bipolar disorder. One medication caused me to develop Steven-Johnson’s Syndrome. I stopped that medication and took only an anti-depressant which caused a manic state. I drank to calm the mania.” She was an alcoholic and mentally unstable. Then her eldest son, Calen, was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder, a form of schizophrenia.
Jessie asked her sister, Glenn, to help battle the stigma and misunderstanding of mental illness. “It’s one thing to be aware of stigma in your own life but when Calen lost all his friends I couldn’t bare it.” In 2009 Glenn founded BringChange2Mind.org, an outreach and stigma-fighting mental health advocacy group that provides invaluable resources and inspiration to people and families in need. BringChange2Mind aims to continue the larger conversation and challenge discrimination against mental illness. Glenn says, “It was about connecting us to our family and presenting stigma in an authentic way. Jessie and Calen [a BC2M ambassador also] are my heroes.”
October 2009 saw the start of the organization’s first national anti-stigma campaign. Award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard directed the first commercial, which highlighted how mental illness affects the whole family. The second ad, 2013’s Schizo, challenged the Hollywood cliches that demonize people with mental illness. Both 60-second commercials star Jessie, Glenn, and Calen and prove that no one struggles alone.
Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness, Jessie’s memoir, was released in 2015. She blogs about living with mental illness for BringChange2Mind.org and has made appearances on Good Morning America, Katie, Erin Burnett, and Piers Morgan.
- CNN: Close family struggle with mental illness (2014)
- Jessie and Glenn Close Introduce Bring Change 2 Mind (2012)
- Glenn and Jessie Close reveal their family's history of mental illness
- Living With Mental Illness (2014)
- "Schizo" — PSA with Calen Pick and the Close family (2013)
- Keynote Address: Jessie tells her story (2012)
- Change a Mind About Mental Illness: Bring Change 2 Mind PSA (2009)
Life has been a whirlwind for Jessie. As a teenager she dropped out of high school, ran away from home and attempted suicide. She struggled for years without a diagnosis or medication until, at age 45, she began treatment for bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, her diagnosis was faulty and she continued to struggle until age 50 when she was finally properly diagnosed and medicated.
In this unflinching look at mental illness, addiction, family, self-discovery and forgiveness, Jessie Close invites audiences to walk a mile in her shoes.
“Resilience: A Story of Mental Illness,” shows the world what living life with an untreated mental disorder looks like and how understanding and family can make all the difference. Jessie takes audiences to the brink and back. She tells the story of how she finally found the treatment she needed and discovered emotional fortitude to regain control of her life.
All programs will include a brief video introduction from Jessie’s sister, actress Glenn Close. In addition, Jessie’s son Calen Pick, is available to join his mother at the podium for an exploration of living life with mental illness.
Calen Pick bio
Calen Pick, a speaker and ambassador for Bring Change 2 Mind, lives with schizo-affective disorder. As an artist living in Montana, Calen promotes artistic expression as a tool to help harness the creative powers commonly found among individuals with various forms of mental illness. After 11 years of undaunting courage, Calen now articulates the challenges of living life with a thought disorder.