Patrick J. Kennedy
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, Mr. 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,” Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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.
Rep. 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 Mr. 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.
In October 2015, Mr. Kennedy released A Common Struggle, which details his personal and political battle with mental illness and addiction. The book, part memoir and part call-to-action, explores mental health care’s history in the country, alongside his and every family’s private struggles.
Patrick J. Kennedy’s Key Legislative Achievements
Rep. 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
Rep. 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.