Mental Health Champion Patrick Kennedy to Kick Off Capitol Hill Day at Mental Health America's Annual Conference

Apr 09, 2013, 11:30 ET from Mental Health America

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Former Congressman and mental health champion Patrick Kennedy will kick off Capitol Hill Day at Mental Health America's 2013 Annual Conference, Why Wellness Works: Breakthroughs and Pathways to Whole Health, which will take place June 5 - 8, 2013, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC.

Kennedy will speak on the morning of Thursday, June 6, to advocates from around the country who will head to Capitol Hill later in the day to lobby their Members of Congress on critical mental health legislation. In addition to speaking about his personal experience with mental illness and substance use and his advocacy of mental health issues, Kennedy will talk about the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Community Mental Health Act.

The legislation was called for in President John F. Kennedy's famous message to Congress to improve the quality of mental health care in America. It marked the first time a President of the United States took specific cognizance of mental illness and mental retardation and stated a national policy. Kennedy called for a bold new approach and emphasized the need to develop preventive programs. His statement contributed to meaningful change in the way Americans view mental health care in the United States and the legislation took the historic step of moving people from institutions back into their communities.

The son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy became the youngest member of his family to hold elected office when, in 1988, he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at age 21.

Kennedy has openly discussed his struggles with depression and bipolar disorder for much of his life and, in 2008, he brought his passion for mental health research and advocacy into the spotlight when he co-authored and was the lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The legislation, which was the largest that he and his father worked on together, provides tens of millions of Americans who were previously denied care with access to mental health treatment.

Shortly following his father's death in 2010, he made the difficult decision to not seek re-election. It was in that year that he co-founded The Next Frontier Campaign: One Mind for Research dedicated to dramatic enhancements in funding and collaboration in research across all brain disorders. The campaign builds on his legislative work to increase understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Mental Health America's 2013 Conference will feature keynote presentations by Geoffrey Canada, President & CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, who is nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in New York City, Dr. James Prochaska, developer of the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change, and David Granirer, stand-up comedian and founder of Stand Up For Mental Health. Other national experts will address the latest developments in the wellness field and their relationship to: the management of mental health conditions and accompanying chronic conditions; strategies for recovery from those conditions; our schools and workplaces; and the Affordable Care Act.

For more information on the Conference and to view a complete agenda, go to

Mental Health America (, founded in 1909, is the nation's leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 240 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

SOURCE Mental Health America