Former U.S. Congressman and Founder of The Kennedy Forum Patrick J. Kennedy delivered video remarks to the World Health Organization (WHO) this week at their Fourth Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (FADAB). The address comes during a swing of European engagements for former Congressman Kennedy with stops in the United Kingdom and Greece.
The WHO convened an audience of member-state representatives, civil society leaders, advocates, and academics. Patrick J. Kennedy, nephew of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, spoke as a leading advocate in the mental health and substance use space, the author of the United States’ 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and a person with 12 years of continuous sobriety. His remarks centered on the need to prioritize mental health and substance use interventions locally, regionally, nationally, internationally, and at the United Nations (U.N.). In 2015, the U.N. integrated mental health as part of its sustainable development goals, though much greater mobilization is needed to make an impact on the lives of people struggling in communities across the world. Kennedy also emphasized that this mobilization should not single out a fraction of the care continuum but rather capture quality prevention, education, and treatment interventions. Other speakers at FADAB included WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the First Lady of Botswana Neo Masisi, and U.K. Member of Parliament Dan Carden.
Before his remarks to the World Health Organization, Congressman Kennedy spoke to students, alumni, and faculty at the Oxford Union in the United Kingdom. He then addressed global leaders at the SNF Nostos Conference in Greece, where he also met with former U.S. President Barack Obama. The Kennedy Forum’s Co-Founder and staunch advocate for youth mental health, Amy Kennedy, also participated in SNF’s Suicide Prevention panel: Safeguarding the emotional health of teens and young adults, on international approaches to combat global youth suicide rates.
To date, The Kennedy Forum has largely worked within the United States to transform mental health and substance use systems. But these challenges extend far beyond U.S. borders, with an international study reporting that the global prevalence of mental disorders increased from 80.8 million to 125.3 million, between 1990 and 2019. Former Congressman Kennedy and Amy Kennedy were honored to share The Kennedy Forum’s expertise on a global stage and remain ready to serve across borders as the international community realizes the promise of mental health as essential health.
About The Kennedy Forum
Founded in 2013 by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), The Kennedy Forum leads a national dialogue on transforming the health care system by uniting mental health advocates, business leaders, and policymakers around a common set of principles, including full implementation of the Federal Parity Law. Launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s signing of the landmark Community Mental Health Act, the nonprofit aims to achieve health equity by advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the treatment of mental health and addiction. The Kennedy Forum’s “Don’t Deny Me” campaign educates consumers and providers about patient rights under the Federal Parity Law and connects them with essential appeals guidance and resources. To learn more about The Kennedy Forum and donate, please visit www.thekennedyforum.org.