Government News
Rep. Kennedy Publicly Confronts MH Problems
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 11 page 10-10

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 staff.

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 responsibility."

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. ▪

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