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.
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.
In the spring of 2017, Kennedy was appointed to serve on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The Commission, chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, studied ways to combat and treat the scourge of drug abuse and addiction in the U.S.
Kennedy is the recipient of the National Recovery Champion Award, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Humanitarian Award, the American Psychiatric Association Patient Advocacy Award, the New York Academy of Science Breaking the Chains of Stigma Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service 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, the Epilepsy Foundation Public Service Award, and the NAMI Humanitarian of the Year Award, among others.
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