(CNN) – President Barack Obama kicked off the White House’s National Conference on Mental Health Monday by saying he hopes the event will elevate the conversation on mental health to a national level by “bringing mental illness out of the shadows.”
“There should be no shame in discussing or seeking help for treatable illnesses that affect too many people that we love,” the president said. “We’ve got to get rid of that embarrassment. We’ve got to get rid of that stigma. Too many Americans who struggle with mental health illnesses are suffering in silence rather than seeking help.”
The day-long event includes remarks by Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the president’s Cabinet, as well as activists and celebrities Glenn Close and Bradley Cooper.
Cooper has become known as a mental health advocate and was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a man struggling with bipolar disorder in the film “Silver Linings Playbook.” Close narrated a documentary aimed to fight mental health stigmas and helped found the Bring Change 2 Mind campaign, which works against mental health discrimination. Her sister, Jessie, lives with bipolar disorder, and her nephew has schizoaffective disorder.
The White House described the event in part as a step toward fulfilling the president’s promise to explore the relationship between mental illness and gun violence.