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Annual Meeting Highlights
Kennedy, Dukakis to Present Lectures at APA's Annual Meeting
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 4 page 2-19

Two famous citizens of New England known for their compassionate politics will present lectures at APA's 2007 annual meeting in San Diego: Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Kitty Dukakis, wife of former Gov. and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Both have had firsthand encounters with mental illness and made major contributions to the effort to decrease stigma by speaking out about their experiences.

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Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) 

Courtesy of Patrick Kennedy

Kennedy has long worked for passage of a variety of bills that would help people with mental illness, including legislation requiring that treatment of mental illness be covered at parity with other types of medical illness. He and Rep. Jim Ramstad (R.-Minn.) are now holding "field hearings" on mental health parity throughout the United States. The first hearing was held last month in Providence, R.I. Passage of parity legislation has languished for years under Republican control of Congress.

Last year Kennedy made headlines when he had a late-night car accident in Washington, D.C., after taking a sleep medication. In the ensuing media frenzy, he confronted his addiction to painkillers and announced he was entering treatment. In a written statement to APA following the incident, Kennedy said 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" (Psychiatric News, June 2, 2006).

Kennedy will present his lecture, "The Road to Equity: Marching Toward a Just Treatment of Mental Illness and Addiction in America," on Monday, May 21, at 9 a.m. in the San Diego Convention Center. His lecture is part of the National Institute on Drug Abuse session track (see page 14).

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Kitty Dukakis 

Courtesy of Penguin Group (USA)

Dukakis, in the mold of Betty Ford, has openly discussed her struggle with depression and alcohol addiction for many years. In fact, APA presented her with its Patient Advocacy Award in 1989. She published a book about her experiences with mental illness in 1990, Now You Know.

In the years since her husband made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency, she has quietly continued to do good works and speak out on mental health issues. But now as she approaches her 70th birthday, she has returned to center-stage America with publication of her new book, Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy. In a country where ECT is still viewed as a primitive, dangerous, and outdated treatment, her willingness to speak out shows great courage once again.

"I have had eight sets of ECT since 2001," she told Newsweek an interview posted at<www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14754161/site/newsweek/>." It is not an exaggeration to say that electroconvulsive therapy has opened a new reality for me.... As important, ECT has gotten me off antidepressants. I withdrew slowly, with help from my doctors. Since I have been off, I know the full range of my feelings. I get into the car now and put on music, the classical station. I sometimes cry because it conjures up feelings of my dad, who died on March 29, 2003, and was a conductor of the Boston Pops."

Duakakis will present her lecture, "The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy," on Monday, May 21, at 2 p.m. in the San Diego Convention Center. ▪

Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) 

Courtesy of Patrick Kennedy

Kennedy has long worked for passage of a variety of bills that would help people with mental illness, including legislation requiring that treatment of mental illness be covered at parity with other types of medical illness. He and Rep. Jim Ramstad (R.-Minn.) are now holding "field hearings" on mental health parity throughout the United States. The first hearing was held last month in Providence, R.I. Passage of parity legislation has languished for years under Republican control of Congress.
Anchor for JumpAnchor for Jump

Kitty Dukakis 

Courtesy of Penguin Group (USA)

Dukakis, in the mold of Betty Ford, has openly discussed her struggle with depression and alcohol addiction for many years. In fact, APA presented her with its Patient Advocacy Award in 1989. She published a book about her experiences with mental illness in 1990, Now You Know.

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