Everybody Loves Jennifer Lawrence: Actress Could Even ‘Save Lives’

Everybody loves Jennifer Lawrence. It’s official. Even before her Best Actress recognition at the Oscars on Sunday, it was approaching stratospheric levels. Now, one of Australia’s top mental health advocates has said the 22-year-old “will save lives.”

The extraordinary prediction was made by Kate Carnell, CEO of BeyondBlue, an Australian depression organization, in response to the actress’s comments about mental illness in the Oscars press room.

The subject is at the heart of the funny, yet thought-provoking Silver Linings Playbook in which Lawrence plays an outspoken widow who connects with a man (Bradley Cooper) who suffers from bipolar disorder.

News.com notes the actress used some of her spotlight at the Oscars to address the issue.

“I don’t think we’re going to stop until we get rid of the stigma for mental illness,” Lawrence told reporters backstage. “I know [director] David O. Russell won’t, and I hope that this helps.

“It’s just so bizarre how in this world if you have asthma, you take asthma medication. If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medication. But as soon as you have to take medicine for your mind, it’s such a stigma behind it.”

Quoting a broad statistic that one in four Australians think people with mental illnesses should “suck it up,” Carnell believes Lawrence’s comments are not only poignant but will change how the mentally ill feel about themselves and how others treat them.

“It’s just fantastic that somebody as high-profile as Jennifer is, at a time when she’s winning an Oscar, takes time to address mental health,” she told News.com, adding, “It will help, it will save lives.”

“Stigma is still a very real problem. It’s something that’s incredibly detrimental to people who have depression and anxiety and can lead to suicide.”

Carnell’s words are bold, but she stands by them. She went on to say she hoped others would follow Lawrence’s example.

“We’d like more people in high places, or people who have influence, to talk about the issue of mental health,” Carnell adds.”It helps that Jennifer made the point that mental illness is just the same as physical illness.”

In the recent February issue, Lawrence herself told Vanity Fair:

“Not to sound rude, but [acting] is stupid. Everybody’s like, ‘How can you remain with a level head?’ And I’m like, ‘Why would I ever get cocky? I’m not saving anybody’s life. There are doctors who save lives and firemen who run into burning buildings. I’m making movies. It’s stupid.'”

And, yet, movies are powerful.

Think of Brokeback Mountain, Boys Don’t Cry, Milk, and the forthcoming HBO film Behind The Candelabra and their focus on the treatment of gay people, and consider where the movement for same-sex marriage is now.

Consider films like To Kill A Mockingbird, Imitation of Life, Roots, Malcolm X, Mississippi Burning, Betrayed, A Time To Kill, American History X, The Help — even Scandal. These productions walk alongside the Civil Rights movement, showing how far it has come and still has to go.

So, too, films like Persona, Sophie’s Choice, Marathon Man, Life is Beautiful, Shoah, The Last Metro, The Pianist, and Schindler’s List depicted the horrors of the Holocaust and its destructive effect on generations of Jewish people.

Film can, and often does, move in step with real life, reflecting back the very darkest parts of ourselves, and the brightest. In short, some movies matter.

Of course, time — and statistics — will reveal whether Carnell”s words are proven right, or not. And while some of the current media worship of Lawrence is guilty of inflation, her highlighting of the prejudices facing sufferers of mental illness when world’s cameras were watching, is laudable.

Do you think movies have an effect on how people feel about social issues, and has a film ever changed your mind about something?