Bradley Cooper Joins Effort to Find ‘Silver Lining’ in Mental Health Future

BY Justin Scuiletti  February 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — “Silver Linings Playbook” isn’t just receiving good reviews from the critics.

At a press conference at the Center for American Progress, in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, many were singing the movie’s praises for its realistic portrayal of mental illness and spoke of its power to raise awareness of the roadblocks many face in the U.S. in order to get treatment for their conditions.

Actor Bradley Cooper spoke alongside former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, among others, addressing how mental illness has affected their lives.

“I was ignorant before I did this movie,” admitted Cooper, who in the movie portrays Pat Solitano, a man living with bipolar disorder. “For me it felt like that it wasn’t acting. I felt like I could understand that if life dealt a different set of cards to me, I could understand being in a situation that Pat found himself in.”

Kennedy compared the mental health battle and the hurdles many face to find treatment to the civil rights war his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, faced in office.

“Today that can be said for those of us, like myself, who suffer from a mental illness. But not just a medical issue, but a civil rights issue, because the denial of medical treatment is really a civil rights issue,” he said.

Stabenow hopes the movie can be the start of a continuing trend of bringing the mental health issue not only to Congress but to the rest of the nation.

“We need to bring awareness. The movie is a very important place to start with real people, talking about life struggles and the fact that there is hope.”

“If we do communicate, healing can occur,” concluded Cooper. “Hopefully today can be the beginning of that awareness and that action.”

The movie is up for best picture and several other Oscars in Sunday night’s ceremony, including all the top acting awards. Cooper and his co-star Jennifer Lawrence are up for best actor and actress, and Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver for supporting actor and actress. Its director, David O. Russell is nominated for best director.

Jason Kane contributed to this report.