Patrick Kennedy Announces New Mental Health Initiative

Jul 24, 2013

Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy plans to launch a new effort later this year, known as the Kennedy Forum, to advocate for continued improvement on mental health issues.

During a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Kennedy said that despite progress, Americans with mental illness continue to face discrimination, inequities in insurance coverage, and a heightened risk for suicide. Part of the answer, he said, is finalizing rules for a 2008 federal law meant to ensure parity in insurance coverage for mental health issues:

"Without equality or parity, insurance can still refuse to cover mental illnesses at the same level as other physical illnesses, making it harder for people to get well and often isolating them from their struggle."

Kennedy says the Kennedy Forum will be formally launched during an October event at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of a mental health bill signed by President Kennedy in 1963.

Patrick Kennedy, who now resides in New Jersey, says veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are among those who need a more responsive system for treating mental health issues.