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Patrick Kennedy        

Former U.S. Congressman; Co-Founder of One Mind for Research; Founder of The Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health

A pioneer in mental health policy and advocacy, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy served Rhode Island’s First Congressional District for 16 years, championing causes essential to the well-being of all Americans. During his time on Capitol Hill, Kennedy was the author and chief sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, groundbreaking legislation that guaranteed, for the first time in history, equal access to mental health and addiction services. Calling it the “civil rights issue of our time,” Kennedy successfully oversaw the bill’s passage, and in 2008, it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Upon leaving Congress in 2011, Kennedy made a promise: to be a vocal advocate for the full and unequivocal implementation of the 2008 Parity law, and to push for a greater global investment in brain research, which Mr. Kennedy says is the “next great frontier in medicine.”

To make that promise a reality, Kennedy has been instrumental in the formation of two innovative organizations: One Mind for Research and the Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health.

As a co-founder of One Mind for Research, Kennedy is leading the call to revolutionize the ways we study, diagnose and treat brain diseases. To achieve these objectives, One Mind is pioneering an innovative approach to open science that ensures that scientific research, results, and data are available and accessible to everyone. This forward-thinking approach puts a premium on collaboration and innovation, ensuring that patients will receive quicker, better, and more effective diagnosis and treatments.

Kennedy is also the founder of The Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health. The Forum, first organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, is part of Kennedy’s ongoing national dialogue about the state of mental health in America. The Forum’s mission is to unite the nation’s health care system and rally the mental health community around a common set of principles: fully implement the 2008 parity law, bring business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma, work with providers to guarantee equal access to care, ensure that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy, and give consumers a way to understand their rights.

Weaving together both private and professional narratives, and written alongside an award-winning healthcare journalist, Rep. Kennedy is also the co-author of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction (October, 2015) in which he creates a roadmap for equality in the mental health community and outlines a bold plan for the future of mental health policy.

Legislative Achievements

Kennedy has authored and co-sponsored dozens of bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD Act, The Nurse-Family Partnership Act, the Positive Aging Act, the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act, and the Ready, Willing, and Able Act, which called on the Department of Homeland Security to deploy a civilian response system to blunt the psychological impact of terrorism.

Awards and Other Recognition

Kennedy has been recognized by many organizations for his mental health advocacy and leadership. He is the recipient of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award, the Peter C. Alderman Foundation Humanitarian Award, the Clifford Beers Foundation Centennial Award, the Autism Society of America Congressional Leadership Award, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Paul Wellstone Mental Health Award, and the Epilepsy Foundation Public Service Award.

Speech Topics


Healthcare’s Next Frontier: The Race to Inner Space

More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy asked Americans to think big, engage in the world beyond their own backyards, and make public service an integral component of everyday life. Part of the president’s cutting-edge approach to governing was to set audacious, seemingly unreachable goals…and exceed them. One of those goals was also the most storied, and most impactful: a call to reach the moon in a decade, catalyzing what is now known as the “space race.”

Today, Patrick J. Kennedy believes we’re are in a new space race, but it’s not about reaching a new planet, or exploring the cosmos. It’s a race of a different kind – a race to “inner-space,” a quest to understand the brain and brain health as much as we sought to understand the surface of the moon. The stakes are clear – 1 in 4 Americans are touched by mental illness, whether personally or through the experience of a family member. Almost 20 million Americans have a substance abuse issue. More than 8 million people in this country have had a serious suicidal thought.

What binds these statistics together? A need to understand the underlying science of the brain, how it works, how it becomes compromised, and what we can do to achieve brain health. Patrick J. Kennedy will discuss new advances in science and policy that are leading the way toward a deeper understanding of “inner space,” and the role we all play in achieving the goal of making mental healthcare as routine, accessible, and understandable as physical healthcare.

My Journey: Making Mental Health Essential Health

Since his earliest days in public service, Patrick J. Kennedy believed that mental health should be a national priority. After 16 years in Congress, and countless bills passed, one stands out among the rest for the impact it has on the lives of all Americans – the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This bill ensures that mental health is treated on-par with physical health, breaking down decades-old practices in the health care system that kept those two areas separate from one another, often with dire consequences.

Patrick J. Kennedy will discuss why mental health is critical to the overall health and wellbeing of all Americans, why the healthcare system needs to adapt to better accommodate mental healthcare, the underlying public policy imperatives of parity, and why we need to invest in innovation. Kennedy will also discuss his own journey toward mental health and recovery, and how he sees the world today.

News


JFK to PJK — The Kennedy Family Legacy

It is hard to believe that in less than two months we will be at the one year anniversary of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And yet again this week, a middle school student in Nevada shot himself after killing a teacher who had stepped in to save the lives of several other kids. As unthinkable —

Honoring JFK and Heeding His Call on Mental Health

Fifty years ago this month, my uncle, President John F. Kennedy, signed the Community Mental Health Act, long-considered the law that laid the foundation for modern-day mental health care.

Kennedy, Hemingway to speak at mental health symposium

Patrick J. Kennedy and Mariel Hemingway will be the featured speakers at the first Southeastern Symposium on Mental Health in Greenville next month.

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