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'Silver Linings Playbook' director on the stigma of mental illness

David O.

David O. Russell, director of the Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook, is using his clout in the entertainment industry to spread a positive message about mental health.

During an appearance Monday on The Last Word, Russell talked with Lawrence O’Donnell about the ripple effect of his movie. “The beauty of the movie is that it has opened up the dialogue and removed the stigma,” Russell remarked. It is this stigma, he argues, that discourages preventative action and subsequently balloons into “a crisis.”

The issue of mental health has been put in the national spotlight in recent months following the deadly shooting in Newtown.

Russell also went to Washington last week to push for improvements in the nation's mental health care system. Along with actor Bradley Cooper, Russell met with Vice President Biden to discuss the necessity for increased access to mental health care and the role the entertainment industry can play in helping the government.

“Sometimes movies do what governments can’t,” Biden told the director and his Oscar-nominated leading actor. A few hours earlier,  Russell advocated for the Excellence in Mental Health Act on the Senate floor. One of President Obama's proposals that has gathered bipartisan support is an attempt to require background checks on all purchases. This, in theory, would automatically exclude registered criminals and individuals with mental illness.

Vice President Biden has been meeting with figures like Russell and Cooper in order to provide President Obama with the most comprehensive solution to prevent gun violence.

Access to mental health care is personal for Russell.  He said he made Silver Linings Playbook because he's "the father of a son who struggles with mood disorder."