On this episode of The Voice, UUP President Fred Kowal talks with former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, who for decades has been a champion for mental health equity and combatting substance abuse—and is recognized as one of the nation's most respected voices on mental health equity, parity, addiction and recovery.
Kennedy—the son of Sen. Ted Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy—talks about his efforts to bring about more understanding and acceptance of people with mental illness, substance abuse issues and other brain disorders.
Kowal and Kennedy discuss how the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 came to be and where things are now, 15 years after the groundbreaking law was approved.
Kennedy talks about his struggles with addiction and his recovery (he's been sober since 2011, after years of addictions to alcohol and prescription pain medications). He left Congress in 2011.
He also discusses about his 2015 book, "A Common Struggle," and how his family has dealt with decades of generational trauma.
Kennedy founded the nonprofit Kennedy Forum in 2013, with a mission to lead a national dialogue to systemically reform America’s health care system by advancing evidence-based practices, policies and programming to prevent and treat mental health and addiction disorders.
He’s the founder of DontDenyMe.org, a parity rights information resource, and a co-founder of Psych Hub, the world’s most comprehensive online learning platform on mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention. He's also a co-founder of One Mind, an organization that pushes for greater global investment in brain research.
For more information about Kennedy's work, check out his website at patrickjkennedy.net.