For Immediate Release
The late Ted Kennedy’s son leverages personal struggles to advocate for mental health awareness
(GRAND RAPIDS, MI. January 22, 2013) – Hope Network today announced it’s bringing in former United States Representative turned national mental health advocate Patrick J. Kennedy to Michigan in March to advance statewide conversation about the importance of integrating mental and physical health care. The announcement of Kennedy, who openly discusses his personal struggles with depression and bipolar disorder, coincides with the statewide healthcare nonprofit’s intentions in 2013 to advocate for increased public access to mental health care.
Patrick Kennedy, 45, is the youngest child of former United States Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy.
Kennedy is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Economic Club of Grand Rapids March 25 meeting and then at the Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club on March 26. Both of these public engagements are sponsored by Hope Network.
“As we approach 50 years of providing specialty and community health services to the people of Michigan, we also acknowledge that there is much to be done in the way of integrating mental healthcare and access for those we serve, said Phil Weaver, Hope Network President and CEO. “Hope Network pledges to help lead the statewide bi-partisan effort to integrate mental healthcare with physical healthcare in a way that is accessible to those in need. You don’t have to look too hard to find news stories that indicate the need to bring mental healthcare to the forefront.”
Kennedy, the co-founder of One Mind for Research, served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and is predominantly known as the author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which is believed to be the last piece of legislation that Patrick and his father Ted worked on together. This dramatic piece of legislation provides access to mental health treatment to tens of millions of Americans who previously went untreated.
Since leaving Congress in 2011, Kennedy, co-founded One Mind for Research, and travels the nation presenting the case for eliminating the stigma and transforming policy for mental health.
“We believe Patrick Kennedy is a wonderful example of how a public figure, from a very well-known and respected family, can advance the conversation and shatter the stigma associated with mental health,” says Weaver. “Regardless of your political persuasion, we’re confident that Mr. Kennedy’s passionate case for mental health integration will be met with agreement.”
And, it’s not just Hope Network wanting to bring mental health integration to the forefront of bi-partisan discussion. In previous remarks on health and wellness Michigan Governor Rick Snyder commented on the need to address the disparity of care, noting:
“We can reduce this disparity if we build a stronger and better coordinated system of care for persons with mental illness, substance use disorders, children with serious emotional disturbance, and persons with developmental disabilities. I have directed MDCH to develop a plan to integrate physical and behavioral health care throughout the continuum of care.”
Michigan Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman adds, “Given the priority of mental health and need for a more integrated healthcare system, we welcome Patrick Kennedy to Michigan to add to the dialog of how best to implement solutions in a bipartisan approach. I also want to thank Hope Network and their donors for sponsoring these events.”
It was Hope Network’s intention to bring Mr. Kennedy’s message to as many audiences as possible, thus the coordination of back-to-back public presentations in Grand Rapids and Lansing. Hope anticipates seeing many legislative and healthcare leaders at the two presentations.
“We’re hoping to use Mr. Kennedy’s platform and history as a way to get others in the state to focus on integrating the delivery of total healthcare,” adds Weaver about the investment the nonprofit is making in bringing Kennedy to Michigan. “We are appreciative of our donors and supporters that have helped us make these events possible.”
“The Lansing Regional Chamber Economic Club is so pleased to welcome to the podium former U.S. Representative and national mental health advocate Patrick Kennedy”, said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Untreated mental illness costs the U.S. more than $100 billion a year in lost productivity, making a strong business case for continued awareness and improved funding for mental health issues in the United States.”
"The Economic Club of Grand Rapids membership looks forward to his remarks on eliminating the stigma of mental health from his personal and political perspectives," said Lorna Schultz, Executive Director of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids
In addition to the Economic Club speeches, Kennedy and Hope Network executives will engage in meetings to discuss specific to ways in which Michigan can better integrate mental and physical health care.
Congressman Kennedy has authored and co-sponsored dozens of bills to increase the understanding and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders, including the National Neurotechnology Initiative Act, the Genomics and Personalized Medicine Act, the COMBAT PTSD Act, and the Alzheimer’s Treatment and Caregiver Support Act.
Kennedy is a winner of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award, the Autism Society of America Congressional Leadership Award, the Depression and Bipolar Support Paul Wellstone Mental Health Award, and the Epilepsy Foundation Public Service Award. He is also founder of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus.
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About Hope Network
Hope Network is a non-profit Christian organization founded in 1963 to provide individuals a greater level of independence through Specialty Health and Community Services. We offer a broad continuum of care in our areas of expertise – the treatment of brain and spinal cord injuries, mental illness, and developmental disabilities. In addition, Hope Network provides specialized transportation and residential services, as well as job training and placement. Hope Network cares for the whole person addressing the social, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. With corporate offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hope Network provides services in 240 locations, by 2,700 staff, to more than 20,000 people annually throughout Michigan. For more information, please visit www.hopenetwork.org.
About Patrick Kennedy:
About One Mind for Research: