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The Karla Smith Foundation and partner organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, held a fundraising gala Friday evening where they were joined by Tony, Golden-Globe and Emmy award winning actress Glenn Close to kick off an unprecedented mental health awareness and anti-stigma campaign to provide support for people who have a loved one suffering from mental illness.

“About one in six people suffer from a mental illness,” Close said, “It’s part of being a human…It’s not a cool subject for a lot of people, it makes people uncomfortable.”

In 2009, BringChange2Mind produced a public service announcement which featured Close and her sister, Jessie, who suffers from bipolar disorder.

Close encourages those affected to talk about it and to understand that a mental illness doesn’t have to stop anyone from living a productive, fulfilling life.

“The idea is, let’s get out and talk about it so people don’t have to feel shame,” Close said.

The BringChange2Mind website, Facebook and Twitter pages are proving to be productive as they reach out to people who need support in dealing with a mental illness.

“It gives people a place and a face with mental illness that’s never been there,” said Kevin Smith, of the Karla Smith Foundation, who is Karla’s brother. “It’s a movement that’s unifying people.”

More information is available at and Karla Smith Foundation, and both websites aim to form a community where people can go for support in dealing with their illness. People can write in to the site and receive a response within 48 hours from a volunteer.

“It’s the courage to say, this resonates for me and I want to get help,” said Nancy Evans, executive director of BringChange2Mind.

All proceeds of the weekend support Karla Smith Foundation and BringChange2Mind, two organizations that have turned their experiences with mental illness and suicide into stories of hope and change.

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