Michigan Rehabilitation Association attends the NAMI Annual Conference
Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Kennedy, was the key note speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness annual conference. Congressman Kennedy graciously talked about his personal adversities pertaining to bi-polar and substance abuse disorder.
Like many others with mental illness, Congressman Kennedy struggled in his early-adult life not knowing or understanding why people were disappointed by some of the behavior he was displaying. Once he was diagnosed with bi-polar and realized his substance abuse issues were a result of self-medicating, he began treatment and is now living a sober life.
Congressman Kennedy’s personal journey led him to Washington, D.C., to advocate with his father, Senator Ted Kennedy, for improving mental health screenings nationwide. Senator and Congressman Kennedy’s vision is to have mental health screenings incorporated into annual physicals. Doctors already have the tools needed for mental health screenings and with early detection; people with mental health concerns can begin treatment as early as grade-school.
Congressman Kennedy passionately talked about our current health care system and how people with cancer or diabetes have early detection screenings; doctors do not wait for someone to lose a limb or their eye-sight before they start treatment. He believes we should have the same thinking and systems in place for mental health. As he stated at the conference “We should not wait for a catastrophic event to occur in someone’s life before they receive treatment for mental illness.”
At the end of his speech, Congressman Kennedy reminded the audience that his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, introduced legislation for people with disabilities in 1963. October 24th, 2013, the Kennedy’s will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this legislation. Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s speech ended with a standing ovation!
Submitted by: Stacey Locke