Healthcare’s Next Frontier: The Race to Inner Space
More than 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy asked Americans to think big, engage in the world beyond their own backyards, and make public service an integral component of everyday life. Part of the president’s cutting-edge approach to governing was to set audacious, seemingly unreachable goals…and exceed them. One of those goals was also the most storied, and most impactful: a call to reach the moon in a decade, catalyzing what is now known as the “space race.”
Today, Patrick J. Kennedy believes we’re are in a new space race, but it’s not about reaching a new planet, or exploring the cosmos. It’s a race of a different kind – a race to “inner-space,” a quest to understand the brain and brain health as much as we sought to understand the surface of the moon.
The stakes are clear – 1 in 4 Americans are touched by mental illness, whether personally or through the experience of a family member. Almost 20 million Americans have a substance abuse issue. More than 8 million people in this country have had a serious suicidal thought.
What binds these statistics together? A need to understand the underlying science of the brain, how it works, how it becomes compromised, and what we can do to achieve brain health. Patrick J. Kennedy will discuss new advances in science and policy that are leading the way toward a deeper understanding of “inner space,” and the role we all play in achieving the goal of making mental healthcare as routine, accessible, and understandable as physical healthcare.
My Journey: Making Mental Health Essential Health
Since his earliest days in public service, Patrick J. Kennedy believed that mental health should be a national priority. After 16 years in Congress, and countless bills passed, one stands out among the rest for the impact it has on the lives of all Americans – the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This bill ensures that mental health is treated on-par with physical health, breaking down decades-old practices in the health care system that kept those two areas separate from one another, often with dire consequences.
Patrick J. Kennedy will discuss why mental health is critical to the overall health and wellbeing of all Americans, why the healthcare system needs to adapt to better accommodate mental healthcare, the underlying public policy imperatives of parity, and why we need to invest in innovation.
Kennedy will also discuss his own journey toward mental health and recovery, and how he sees the world today.
The Honorable Patrick J. Kennedy is an Honorary Advisor to Smart Approaches to Marijuana: Preventing Another Big Tobacco
SAM is a collection of bipartisan professionals working in mental health and public health including medical doctors, lawmakers, treatment providers, preventionists, teachers, law enforcement officers and others who seek a middle road between incarceration and legalization. Their third-way approach to marijuana policy is based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.
Read more about Patrick Kennedy's work with SAM...
Representative Patrick Kennedy served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and is predominantly known as author and lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. This dramatic piece of legislation provides tens of millions of Americans who were previously denied care with access to mental health treatment.
Now, Rep. Kennedy is the co-founder of One Mind, a national coalition seeking new treatments and cures for neurologic and psychiatric diseases of the brain afflicting one in every three Americans. One Mind for Research is dedicated to dramatic enhancements in funding and collaboration in research across all brain disorders in the next decade. This historic grassroots endeavor unites efforts of scientists, research universities, government agencies, and industry and advocacy organizations not only across the country, but throughout the world. Rep. Kennedy is bringing everyone together to design the first blueprint of basic neuroscience, to guide efforts in seeking cures for neurological disorders affecting Americans.
Rep. Kennedy is the founder of the Kennedy Forum on Community Mental Health which served as a vehicle to celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act, the landmark bill that laid the foundation of contemporary mental health policy and provided Rep. Kennedy with the platform to launch a bold, ongoing effort to advance the work President Kennedy began. The Kennedy Forum continues to advocate for mental health parity.
Rep. 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.
Rep. Kennedy is a winner of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Distinguished Service Award, the Society for Neuroscience Public Service Award, the Peter C. Alderman Foundation Humanitarian Award, Centennial Award from the Clifford Beers Foundation, the Autism Society of America Congressional Leadership Award, the Depression and BiPolar Support Paul Wellstone Mental Health Award, the Epilepsy Foundation Public Service Award and has been recognized by many organizations for his mental health advocacy. In 2014, he is being recognized by the Society of Biological Psychiatry, The Samaritan Institute, and The Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA).
He is also founder of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and the 21st Century Healthcare Caucus, as well as an honorary advisor to SAM-Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
Rep. Kennedy lives in Brigantine, NJ, with his wife, Amy, and their three children.