General Hospital star Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos) is serious about changing the stigmas attached to mental health issues. In addition to opening up about his own personal journey with bipolar disorder in his upcoming memoir Nothing General About It, he just launched a new website called Maurice Benard State of Mind.
In an explanation posted on the new site, Benard says, "State of Mind to me means being 100% present, feeling completely at peace inside of you, not letting your thoughts control your life and always looking for ways to be the best that you can be."
Benard also says via Instagram that State of Mind is "a communion I have with my audience. I speak of my life living with mental illness, we talk, we laugh, sometimes we cry. In the end I always feel like I've gone through somethin'."
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Behind the scenes— people always ask me, what's this @mbstateofmind thing? I say it's a communion I have with my audience. I speak of my life living with mental illness, we talk,we laugh, sometimes we cry. In the end I always feel like I've gone through something✊🏽 #nothinggeneralaboutit #makingadifference #OneBookAtATime #mentalhealthawareness #mentalillnessawareness @harpercollinsus @williammorrowbooks @namicommunicate @didi_hirsch @mbstateofmind 🎥filmed by ALICE V
As the new website states, Benard was inspired to begin addressing mental health issues publicly after he received a letter from a young man whose brother committed suicide. Though he had previously been mentoring individuals privately, the letter spurred him to tackle the subject head-on, starting with a 2009 appearance on Oprah, where he shared that he had been diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 22 and that there had been an ensuing struggle to manage the illness.
General Hospital had long been on the forefront of weaving socially relevant issues such as AIDS and Alzheimer's awareness into storylines, so to further his cause, Benard pushed for his Port Charles character to be diagnosed as bipolar in order to bring mental health awareness to the soap's viewers. Benard has also lent his face and voice to numerous organizations, including International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. His work with these various organizations has earned him numerous awards, including IBF's Imagine Award, NAMI's Lionel Aldridge Award, and the Erasing the Stigma Award alongside Carrie Fischer and Rod Steiger. Benard also testified before Congress on mental health issues and speaks at the annual conference for the National Manic Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association.
Benard recently began opening up about his everyday struggles on Instagram, calling the videos Sunday Sessions. These videos have been organized into a Sunday Sessions collection, which is also available on State of Mind. The website also includes a store that features several t-shirts and a link to pre-order his book, as well as a section that includes all of Benard's upcoming appearances and book signings.
"There is nothing I am more proud of than State of Mind and my book, Nothing General About It," Benard says in a video posted to his new website. "My goal has always been to help people with mental illness, and I've been talking about it for over thirty years."
For more from Benard and to check out his new website, click here.
What do you think about Maurice Benard launching a new website in order to further spread awareness about mental health issues as well as connect with his fans? What other features on the website would you like to see? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.