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. 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, which he calls the “civil rights issue of our time.” 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. The Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health, first organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, helps unite the US health care system and rally the mental health community 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. Mr. Kennedy is the author of “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. He is the recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Public Service 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, among many others.