The media coverage of Rep. Patrick Kennedy's (D-R.I.) car accident and its
aftermath illustrated for him the huge gap between popular conceptions of
mental illnesses and the science behind them, according to one of his
He and his staff hope the incident can serve as a way to educate the public
about the challenges confronting those with mental illness. He also urged
other mental health advocates to continue their efforts to increase support
for mental health treatment from the public and Congress.
Kennedy said in a written statement to APA that during his 15 years in
public life he has felt a responsibility to "speak honestly and openly
about my challenges with addiction and depression."
"I've been fighting this chronic disease since I was a young man and
have aggressively and periodically sought treatment so that I can live a full
and productive life," Kennedy said. "I struggle every day with
this disease, as do millions of Americans. I've dedicated my public service to
raising awareness about the chronic disease of addiction and have fought to
increase access to care and recovery supports for the too many Americans
forced to struggle on their own."
He described a recurrence of an addiction problem triggered by"
things that happen in everyday life, such as taking a common treatment
for a stomach flu."
"That's not an excuse for [the car crash], but it's a reality of
fighting a chronic condition for which I'm taking full
He hoped treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota will "ensure that
I can continue on my road to recovery."
"I hope that my openness today and in the past, and my
acknowledgement that I need help, will give others the courage to get help if
they need it," he wrote. ▪