Elected to Rhode Island Legislature
Patrick became the youngest member of the Kennedy family to hold public office when he won election to the Rhode Island House of Representatives at age 21 while a junior at Providence College.
Championed Gun Reform Legislation
Patrick was the primary sponsor of a bill that mandated a seven-day waiting period before purchasing firearms.
Elected to Congress
Patrick was elected as a Democrat to represent the 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island. Patrick was the youngest member of Congress in 1995 and served on the House Armed Services Committee. He was re-elected seven times and served until January 3, 2011 when he left Congress to focus on a healthier lifestyle and start a family.
Served as the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
Patrick became the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Patrick served as the Chairman until 2001.
Becomes a Public Advocate for Mental Health Care Reform
At an event with Tipper Gore, Patrick reveals in public for the first time that he suffered from depression and that he had been treated by a psychiatrist. This moment marks Patrick’s entrance as a leading public advocate for mental health and substance use disorder reform.
Begins Service on the Powerful Appropriations Committee
Patrick joined the House Appropriations Committee where he served on two subcommittees: (1) Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies and (2) Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. This is the influential panel that has authority over all of the federal government’s discretionary spending. While Patrick was appointed to the Appropriations Committee in 1998, he did not begin his position until after his tenure as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Passed Monumental Legislation on Children’s Mental Health
Patrick was the lead sponsor of the Foundations for Learning Act. This bill established a grant program to improve mental and emotional health for school children through screening and early intervention. The bill was incorporated into the No Child Left Behind law, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 9, 2002.
Patrick and Dr. David Satcher Begin Their Mental Health Advocacy Partnership
Patrick and Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher held hearings in Providence, RI at the State House on children’s mental health. Dr. Satcher released the first Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health in 1999 and continues to work with Patrick on increasing access to mental health care through the Kennedy Center for Mental Health Policy and Research housed within the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine.
Brought Awareness to Information Technology Through National Conference
Patrick organized the first of several Frontiers of Healthcare conferences, which focused on transforming healthcare through information technology. Patrick was joined with then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at the conference.
Championed Law on the Prevention and Early Intervention of College Suicides
Patrick was instrumental in the passage of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. This law increased access to mental health services for college students and expanded youth suicide prevention and early intervention.
Provided leadership to support the mental health of first responders
Patrick championed the Ready, Willing, and Able Act, which called on the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a working group on the development of community-based disaster preparedness.
Passed Landmark Legislation to End Insurance Discrimination Against People Experiencing Mental Illness and Addiction
Patrick built bipartisan support and led the passage of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Parity Act requires insurance companies to cover of the brain, like bipolar disorder or alcohol use disorder, the same as diseases of the body, like cancer or heart disease. In addition to its powerful legal protections, the Federal Parity Law reduces the stigma surrounding behavioral health conditions.
Championed legislation to expand the use of electronic health records
Patrick introduced the Health Information Technology Extension for Behavioral Health Services Act to improve the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions and addictions by extending financial incentive eligibility to behavioral health providers for the use of electronic health records.
Co-founded One Mind
Together with Garen and Shari Staglin, Patrick started One Mind to help eliminate the stigma of brain disease and to lead the community in revolutionizing collaboration, research, and funding. By forming global partnerships within the governmental, corporate, scientific, and philanthropic communities, One Mind is accelerating large-scale research through “Open Science” data sharing and collaboration.
Patrick co-founded Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) with David Frum and Kevin Sabet.
Release of the New York Times Bestseller, “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction”
In this intensely personal account, Patrick shared his recovery from bipolar disorder and addiction, reflected on the tendency to treat mental illness as a family secret, and provided a blueprint for the future of mental health policy in America.