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Patrick Kennedy talks advocacy to advance mental health treatment

By age 22, Patrick Kennedy had maxxed out his lifetime health care limits for treatment of bipolar and addiction diagnoses. The former U.S. Representative has now been sober for more than 10 years – but not simply thanks to insurance. As he told the online audience for the Sept. 2 segment of the Northeast Ohio Medical University VITALS series, he was fortunate to have the financial resources to supplement insurance and obtain the full complement of care he needed.

Among Kennedy’s points during his heartfelt, personal discussion of the need for improvements to mental health care and insurance, were these: Our country still does not intervene early enough when people begin to have mental health concerns. (More than 74% of mental illnesses surface in people before age 15, said Kennedy.) 

The health care system tends to take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to health care, and it most often fails to integrate mental health care into primary care. 

And, Kennedy said, “We have not deployed the types of evidence-based treatment that can really help people.”  

Following Kennedy’s presentation came questions moderated by Rick Kellar, the president of Peg’s Foundation, which focuses on improving the lives of people with serious mental illness. Peg’s Foundation has been one of NEOMED’s staunchest supporters and partners. Kellar framed questions from participants with the benefit of his own decades of experience leading this Northeast Ohio nonprofit that supports mental health initiatives, including those of the Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center at NEOMED.

VITALS past and future

Registration will open soon for the next segment of VITALS, featuring Art Papier, co-founder and CEO of VisualDx. The live webinar will stream live at noon Thursday, Oct. 7, and will be moderated by Monica Robins, WKYC-TV’s senior health correspondent.  

Watch the video of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy on VITALS Sept. 2, 2021