Indiana University Bloomington welcomed a special visitor Tuesday when acclaimed actress Glenn Close stopped by campus to unveil the new U Bring Change 2 Mind College Toolbox Project bus campaign.
The lime-green bus features the U Bring Change 2 Mind logo along with a scenario about the effects of stigmatizing someone dealing with a mental health issue. The bus is meant to spread the message of U Bring Change 2 Mind, which aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
“Our vision with U Bring Change 2 Mind College Toolbox Project is to track students’ attitudes around mental illness and stigma, because stigma is the core problem with people getting help and being able to talk openly about what they are living with and how they are dealing with it,” Close said. “Stigma promotes shame, it promotes isolation, it promotes fear, and a lot of it comes from misunderstanding. It’s still incredibly toxic.”
The College Toolbox Project is a partnership connecting IU and its students with Bring Change 2 Mind, a national non-profit organization founded by Close, whose sister and nephew live with mental illness. The research-based, student-run program’s goal is to develop, pilot-test and evaluate the efficacy of anti-stigma program materials.
Throughout the year, the College Toolbox Project hosts activities aimed at students, including two anti-stigma competitions that allowed students to design and pitch campaign ideas to Close. A third competition will take place this semester.
The hope is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage students with mental health issues to get the help they need.
“The idea is to reach out to the students who face issues and to the students who have not yet faced issues,” said Distinguished Professor of Sociology Bernice Pescosolido, who serves on the national Bring Change 2 Mind advisory council. “We hope when something happens maybe they will remember, and they will have a shorter pathway to care or health.
“And (maybe) some other kid will know it is OK to talk about it, and if they sense something in a friend, they’ll be able to approach them and say ‘Are you OK and do you need help?'” Close added. “Just make people more aware and not ashamed and fearful. For me the thing is to just be able to talk about it.”
U Bring Change 2 Mind’s first meeting of the year will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Indiana Memorial Union. The meeting is open to any student interested in learning more about the program and getting involved.