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Glenn Close to receive honourary degree from Ontario university

Glenn Close. Getty Images

KINGSTON, Ont. – Glenn Close will be celebrated today for her work in the area of mental health as she receives an honourary degree from Queen’s University.

The award-winning actress will be conferred with an honourary Doctor of Laws.

Close is also slated to address the convocation assembly in Grant Hall.

The six-time Oscar nominee is co-founder of Bring Change 2 Mind, which is dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.

The subject matter strikes close to home for the veteran actress whose sister, Jessie Close, and nephew, Calen Pick, both live with mental illness.

Close will contribute three vignettes about her sister and an epilogue for Jessie’s forthcoming memoir Resilience, scheduled for release in January 2015.

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The actress will also narrate the audio edition of the memoir which will be co-written by Pete Earley, author of the 2006 book Crazy, about his son’s struggles.

The idea to create the anti-stigma campaign Bring Change 2 Mind stemmed from a partnership between Glenn Close and the organization Fountain House, where the actress volunteered to learn more about mental illness.

When Jessie became suicidal and didn’t know how to handle her uncontrollable mood swings, she looked to Glenn for help. While Jessie had lived with bipolar disorder for most of her life, she wasn’t properly diagnosed until a hospital stay in 2004.

Glenn Close drew on her own personal experiences in an address to an anti-stigma conference in Ottawa last year which was hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and where the actress spoke of relatives who had been affected by mental illness.

“Because of (Jessie) and Calen, because of great Uncle Jean, and poor Uncle Harry….I decided to use my name and image to focus on the eradication of the stigma and prejudice and discrimination that I came to realize was such a hurtful burden to beloved members of my family,” she said.

“And my education began. Little did I know that it is the last, perhaps most challenging, civil and human rights issue of our time.”

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In addition to her advocacy work, the 66-year-old star of films including Fatal Attraction, The Big Chill, and Dangerous Liaisons has maintained a presence on both the big and small screens in recent years.

In 2012, Close earned a best actress Oscar nod for her role as the title character in Alfred Nobbs.

The veteran actress concluded her Emmy-winning turn as Patty Hewes on the TV legal drama Damages, which wrapped last year after five seasons.

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