by Deona Hooper, MSW
Famous celebrity and Hollywood actor, Bradley Cooper, could have used his talk show appearances to only promote his new movie Silver Linings Playbook, but instead he also saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness on mental health issues. Bradley Cooper in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, former Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy, and other leading mental health professionals convened a press conference to discuss the stigmas associated with mental illness which was first reported on by the Huffington Post. I knew after reading the article, the conference video was a valuable piece of information that needed to be shared. Last week, I had seen Bradley making the rounds on MSNBC , but I must admit that I had not seen the movie. To be thorough, I decided to see the movie before sharing the informational video attached to this post below.
I kept hearing this movie was the best movie of the year. Well, the same was said for Les Miserable, Zero Dark Thirty, and Lincoln all of which I have seen. Normally, I don’t go see movies that deal with this type of subject matter because I have already had more than my share from work. To my chagrin, this is undoubtedly the best movie I have ever seen. As a social worker, the main characters, Pat and Tiffany, have been my client at one time or another with their explosive behaviors, extreme highs, and extreme lows as well as bouts with law. This movie not only captures reality, but it gave these characters humanity and respect. Often, our clients may be one case out of the 15 others on our service.
This movie reminded me about the complexities of living with mental illness for the individual and their family. People struggling with mental health disorders don’t spin out of control from a lack of desire to get better. Access to resources, health care, support, and basic care are vital for them to achieve their best-self. In the movie, both Pat and Tiffany live with their parents which provided a safe space for them to work full-time on their mental illness.
The movie utilized a holistic approach between the court system, hospital, therapist, and family in providing treatment options for Pat which allowed him to find his silver lining. Imagine if Pat was homeless and without healthcare while dealing with pending charges he had in the movie? It would have been another episode of Cops instead of an uplifting movie about overcoming challenges due to mental illness. If you haven’t seen this movie, I would advise every practitioner, student, and aspiring student to go see it. I left the movie theater feeling proud to be apart of the social work profession despite the many challenges we face ahead in providing quality care to vulnerable populations.
Here is an excerpt from the Huffington Post article:
Silver Linings Playbook is such a personal movie for David and when we all came together, it became a personal movie for all of us. Tiffany, she serves as a catalyst and she’s the first person who actually sees who Pat is. That’s the thing that this film has done, people around this country who have seen this film say “this film actually sees who I am” because its heavily stigmatized, it’s not a very treatable disease and it’s a condition that is diagnosed way too late. So hopefully, a movie like this will help it become in the onset. That the best thing about this movie, that its able to reach out and make people feel included. ~ Bradley Cooper