While Patrick and Amy Kennedy are expecting their first child in April, they also have a very busy spring planned, as Patrick revs up his advocacy for mental health parity and addiction equity, as well as funding for research in all the brain sciences.
On March 14th in Washington, Patrick and former Congressman James Ramstad (the Minnesota Republican who was Patrick’s sponsor in the Capitol Hill AA group) will appear at a special National Press Club lunch to draw attention to the continued failure to implement the mental health parity laws passed in 2008—which they will claim is a key reason for the mental health crisis among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. (More than half of veterans do not seek care through the VA—according to statistics gathered by the Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Association—so these “returning American heroes” fall victim to the same lack of coverage equality that affects the general population.)
The next day, he and Amy will co-host—along with mental health philanthropist and winery owners Garen and Shari Staglin—a $1000-a-plate dinner in New York at Michael’s Restaurant to raise money for brain research. This is one of many ongoing events to raise money for mental health research and advocacy, overseen by the International Mental Health Research Organization, which the Staglins founded. (The largest is the annual Staglin Music Festival for Mental Health in Napa every fall, a star-studded food, wine and music event which has featured performances by Dwight Yoakam, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Pat Benatar and Brian Wilson.)
Then, on May 23 to May 25, at UCLA, Patrick and Amy will co-host the second annual One Mind for Brain Research Conference. Almost all of the talks from last year’s inaugural One Mind conference—the “Woodstock of the brain sciences”—can be viewed here. This includes lectures on the cutting edge of science, treatment, advocacy, funding and veteran care from many of the nation’s leading researchers, the heads of all the major National Institutes of Health and the FDA, as well as Vice President Joe Biden’s keynote address at the JFK Library on the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s “moonshot” speech. You can read also read the organization’s ambitious “Ten Year Plan for the Neurosciences” here.
In between all this, Patrick is teaching every Monday this semester at Brown University, part of a team presenting a course called “The Race to Inner Space: Conflating Public Health, Science, Politics and Economics to Promote Brain Health.” The classes, part of the university’s public health curriculum, are being filmed.