Agenda

"Few have led on this issue more powerfully - and bravely - than my cousin. Proud to fight alongside you."

Joseph P. Kennedy III

Representative

(D-MA)

Parity

The Parity Act holds tremendous promise to ensure that insurance companies and the federal government, when it acts as an insurer, treats brain diseases like any other illness in the body. We must make sure that everyone gets the care they need by fully enforcing the federal Parity Law and state parity laws. The federal government and state regulators should conduct random audits of insurers to ensure compliance and absolutely must conduct audits of companies who are the subject of repeated parity violations. The Kennedy Forum and the Scattergood Foundation created ParityTrack.org to help consumers understand and enforce their rights to insurance coverage for behavioral health that is equal to their coverage for other medical care.

"Few have led on this issue more powerfully - and bravely - than my cousin. Proud to fight alongside you."

Joseph P. Kennedy III

Representative

(D-MA)

Parity Affiliate Organizations

"Sixteen years ago, I released the first-ever report to the nation on mental health, and we found that mental health conditions affect far more people than we had once thought. "

Dr. David Satcher

Former U.S. Surgeon General and Founding Director

Satcher Health Leadership Institute

Education

All children need to learn how to manage stress and other emotions. In addition, some children and adolescents show signs of behavioral health conditions at early ages, which should be diagnosed and treated before they progress. School systems are ideal locations for meeting the mental health needs of young people. By building partnerships between community mental health professionals, researchers, and educators, we can increase the likelihood that we will identify students’ mental health needs at early stages and provide prevention and intervention programs that will put them on track to become happy and high-functioning adults.

"Sixteen years ago, I released the first-ever report to the nation on mental health, and we found that mental health conditions affect far more people than we had once thought. "

Dr. David Satcher

Former U.S. Surgeon General and Founding Director

Satcher Health Leadership Institute

"As former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has said, why shouldn’t people have “a check-up from the neck-up” along with their annual physical exams?"

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Former President

American Psychiatric Association

Prevention

Every medical exam should include a brain health evaluation, including a depression screening. At every age, patients should get a simple “check up from the neck up” (a phrase coined by the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario) every time they see a health care provider. This is especially true for people who have a history of mental illness or addiction. These screenings must be tied to an aggressive plan of early diagnosis and treatment. Mental illnesses and addictions are progressive, but the majority of conditions can be managed, treated or cured with early intervention.

"As former Congressman Patrick Kennedy has said, why shouldn’t people have “a check-up from the neck-up” along with their annual physical exams?"

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Former President

American Psychiatric Association

"Patrick J. Kennedy is a tireless advocate for change in the way we view mental health and addiction in this country, and an effective leader who personifies the best of this movement."

Linda Rosenberg

President & CEO

National Council for Behavioral Health

Brain Fitness and Technology

Almost half of American children have experienced serious trauma, damaging their ability to learn, and leading to symptoms of mental illness as they age. Poor academic performance in the U.S., compared to other countries, is largely due to the lack of early and effective interventions for students in need. The research shows that brain fitness programs in America’s schools would help all children become more focused and resilient. These brain-building interventions would center on executive function training; social and emotional learning activities; mindfulness training; brain literacy (learning how the brain works); and neurofeedback. As a nation, we must embrace brain fitness training at every stage of life, as well as new technologies like the expanded use of MRIs, smart phone applications, and electronic medical records that have the capacity to improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases.

"Patrick J. Kennedy is a tireless advocate for change in the way we view mental health and addiction in this country, and an effective leader who personifies the best of this movement."

Linda Rosenberg

President & CEO

National Council for Behavioral Health

Brain Fitness and Technology Affiliate Organizations

"Patrick Kennedy is a leading spokesperson and advocate for mental health care for mental illness and addictions in the country and is helping the APA in our efforts to provide better mental healthcare to the citizens of the United States"

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Former President

American Psychiatric Association

Advocacy and Policy

An estimated 22.5 million Americans identify themselves as needing treatment for alcohol or substance use disorders. Nearly 12 million Americans self-report needing mental health treatment or counseling in the past year. As the walls of stigma and shame begin to come down, people experiencing behavioral health conditions and their families are finding each other and organizing themselves. These families represent a powerful political movement that is holding candidates and policymakers accountable for bringing America’s mental health system into the 21st century. As a former Congressman and member of one of the nation’s best-known political families, Patrick is the leading voice for this growing movement for transformative change.

"Patrick Kennedy is a leading spokesperson and advocate for mental health care for mental illness and addictions in the country and is helping the APA in our efforts to provide better mental healthcare to the citizens of the United States"

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman

Former President

American Psychiatric Association

Advocacy and Policy Affiliate Organizations

"Patrick’s story is about hope and recovery… to me, he’s more than just a former colleague, he’s the little brother I never had… he’s a true profile in courage."

Jim Ramstad

Former Representative

(R-MN)

Quality and Outcomes

To improve quality and achieve better outcomes for patients, our behavioral health system must move toward a greater adoption of evidence-based and measurement-based care. For example, only about 18 percent of psychiatrists and 11 percent of psychologists in the U.S. routinely administer symptom rating scales (also known as patient-reported outcome measures) to monitor the improvement of people in their care. Symptom rating scales for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, and other conditions are easy to administer and help practitioners determine whether a treatment is working. This is one among many relatively straightforward improvements that our behavioral health care system could adopt quickly.

"Patrick’s story is about hope and recovery… to me, he’s more than just a former colleague, he’s the little brother I never had… he’s a true profile in courage."

Jim Ramstad

Former Representative

(R-MN)

Quality and Outcomes Affiliate Organizations

"As Surgeon General, you can issue reports, but it takes somebody to lead in Congress, and I was really fortunate when I met Patrick Kennedy… When it came to issues related to mental health and addiction equity, Patrick was the leader in Congress."

Dr. David Satcher

Former U.S. Surgeon General and Founding Director

Satcher Health Leadership Institute

Research

We have an unprecedented opportunity to uncover the secrets of the human brain and revolutionize our understanding of new ways to treat, prevent and cure brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. This research will require a greater and sustained public and private investment. All brain research should be conducted according to One Mind open science principles, which allow results to be shared around the world to accelerate cures and treatments.

"As Surgeon General, you can issue reports, but it takes somebody to lead in Congress, and I was really fortunate when I met Patrick Kennedy… When it came to issues related to mental health and addiction equity, Patrick was the leader in Congress."

Dr. David Satcher

Former U.S. Surgeon General and Founding Director

Satcher Health Leadership Institute

Research Affiliate Organizations

"The hope for the future is a more collaborative care model that is patient centered and not controlled by one caregiver; since there aren't anywhere near enough mental health professionals, with or without MDs, to go around."

Patrick J. Kennedy

Former Congressman and Founder

The Kennedy Forum

Collaborative Care

The fastest way to increase the chances of reaching the 26 million Americans who need, but don’t receive behavioral health care each year is to integrate behavioral care into the primary care system. Under the collaborative care model, people can get treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety from their primary care provider, with support and recommendations from a mental health specialist by video or phone. A growing body of research shows that collaborative care is effective in improving patient outcomes and lowering costs. We need to stop talking about collaborative care and start actually providing it.

"The hope for the future is a more collaborative care model that is patient centered and not controlled by one caregiver; since there aren't anywhere near enough mental health professionals, with or without MDs, to go around."

Patrick J. Kennedy

Former Congressman and Founder

The Kennedy Forum

Collaborative Care Affiliate Organizations