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Mental Health Champion Patrick Kennedy To Kick Off Capitol Hill Day At Mental Health America's Annual Conference

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.

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