Patrick J. Kennedy has dedicated his life to improving the care, treatment, and public policies and understanding surrounding the issues of mental health and addiction in the United States and around the world.
In addition to eight terms in Congress, where he was lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, one of Patrick’s greatest achievements is sharing his personal story in The New York Times bestseller, A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.
A Common Struggle provides a blueprint for transforming our nation’s mental health system so that Patrick’s four children – and their generation – do not have to suffer undiagnosed, untreated mental health conditions and substance use disorders as did his parents’ generation. Patrick’s story was featured on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Fox News, NBC Nightly News, and CBS This Morning.
Patrick is one of the nation’s leading voices on mental health and addiction issues, and his courage in sharing his own experience makes him a national thought leader on a range of related issues.
During 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives serving Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, Patrick authored and co-sponsored dozens of bipartisan bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the Positive Aging Act, the Foundations for Learning Act, the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD 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.
Since leaving Congress in 2011 and starting a family, Patrick has kept his promise to do everything in his power to fully enforce the Parity Law and to push for greater global investment in brain research, which he has called “the next great frontier in medicine” and “our generation’s civil rights issue.” Toward this end, Kennedy co-founded the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity and two other innovative nonprofit organizations that are changing the lives of people with mental illness, addiction, and other brain diseases in the U.S. and around the world.
As the founder of the Kennedy Forum, Patrick drives the national dialogue about transforming the mental health system in America. The Forum aims to revolutionize the way mental health care is delivered in America. Using his convening authority, Patrick is bringing together the best minds in the field to develop a strategic plan for moving the country forward and to unite the mental health community around a common set of principles, including fully implementing the 2008 Parity Law; bringing business leaders and government agencies together to eliminate issues of stigma; working with providers to guarantee equal access to care; ensuring that policymakers have the tools they need to craft better policy; and giving consumers a way to understand their rights with Parity Track and report parity violations with Parity Registry.
As the co-founder of One Mind, Patrick helped spark a global revolution in how scientists collaborate to study, diagnose, and treat brain diseases. One Mind is pioneering a worldwide approach to open science that ensures scientific research, results, and data are available to researchers everywhere. Current initiatives are accelerating the discovery of better diagnostics, treatments and cures for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The next step will be to extend One Mind’s open science principles to increase the pace of cures and treatments for all brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, addiction, and depression. One Mind’s unprecedented collaboration unites scientists, research universities, government agencies, industry, and philanthropists around the world.
Patrick’s commitment to advancing evidence-based interventions and best practices to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic led to his current service on the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. He also serves as a Founding Advisor to Advocates for Opioid Recovery, along with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Van Jones. Advocates for Opioid Recovery is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing a science-based, evidence-based treatment system that can reduce death and suffering from opioid addiction, and produce more long-term opioid addiction survivors who are positively engaged in their families and communities.
Patrick further provides strategic guidance on mental health, intellectual disabilities, and public service as a current board member of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, EMK Institute, In Search of Justice, International Bipolar Foundation, Joseph P Kennedy Jr. Foundation, and National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. In recent years, Kennedy has been honored with humanitarian and other awards from the Mental Health Association, McLean Hospital, American Psychiatric Association, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, NAMI, New York Academy of Science, and other leaders in the mental health community.
Patrick’s most important achievement is continuing his powerful family legacy in the arenas of civil rights, mental health, and intellectual disabilities to advance the cause of social justice and human dignity for all people. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amy, and their four children.