Bradley Cooper, Debbie Stabenow discuss mental illness - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Bradley Cooper, Debbie Stabenow discuss mental illness

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(02/01/13) - It's nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best actor and best picture.

Friday, the star of "Silver Linings Playbook," Bradley Cooper, visited our nation's capital to raise awareness about a disease his character suffers from - mental illness.

In the movie "Silver Linings Playbook," Cooper plays a man with bipolar disorder.

"I got to experience what those who suffer from mental illness experience by playing this character," Cooper said.

And now, Cooper wants to raise awareness. On Friday, he participated in a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress, alongside former congressman Patrick Kennedy, who himself suffers from bipolar disorder, and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, whose dad had the disease.

"I bet I could go to each person in this room, and somebody would have a story about a family member or friend, or possibly yourself," Stabenow said.

Stabenow authored an amendment in the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance companies to cover mental health cases the same way they cover physical health.

"We're very comfortable talking about heart disease, kidney disease, but when it's the organ of the brain, and there's a chemical imbalance, which is what this is, and needs medication, we have a very different reaction," Stabenow said.

Stabenow and Cooper say there has to be a shift in the culture, too, and they credit the movie for starting the conversation.

"I think there's a new silver lining for people with mental illness, and it's this movie," Stabenow said.

"If everybody else puts the real time in to understand, they can take action, and the next thing you know, we could have policy, and then real change can occur," Cooper said.

Cooper continues to raise awareness with his movie - he held a screening for veterans at the Walter Reed Medical Center Thursday night. Meanwhile, Senator Stabenow is working on a bill that would expand mental health access at federal health centers.

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