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Patrick J. Kennedy Updates & Activities

Happy holidays! We hope everyone will be able to enjoy some down time and will have a chance to unplug, unwind, and connect with family and friends. 

This month, Patrick participated in a panel entitled "Building Better Brain Health...and Reducing the Stigma," with Dr. Oz and Headspace Health CEO Russell Glass at the 10th Annual Forbes Healthcare Summit. The summit united leaders in health care, medicine, science, and business to discuss the accelerating pace of innovation and the bright outlook for breakthroughs and new models. More below.


Policy Pulse  

2021 saw several major developments in terms of how we address and cover mental health care as a nation. From shepherding stronger state and federal parity enforcement legislation and advancing game-changing medical-necessity requirements to redefining workplace support and exposing discriminatory state opt-outs, The Kennedy Forum has been on the front lines of change. Learn more in the special year-end blog post, “Mental Health Parity: Where Do We Stand as 2021 Comes to a Close?

The Kennedy Forum recently released a new policy platform that outlines actions states can take to address rising rates of mental health and substance use disorders across the nation. The document provides lawmakers with specific guidance on advancing evidenced-based practices in youth mental health; achieving better integration with primary care; ensuring parity in insurance coverage; and addressing political determinants of health to achieve mental health equity, including comprehensive crisis care and criminal justice system diversion. Access it here

The Kennedy Forum supports the imminent introduction of the Opioid Treatment Access Act, innovative legislation that would increase access to and modernize the process of obtaining methadone to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). Learn more here

Last week, the New York Department of Financial Services fined three major health plans for imposing higher cost-sharing on mental health and addiction care, a practice prohibited under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The Kennedy Forum has long advocated for better data collection and analysis of insurer coverage. The resulting punitive actions go a long way in helping to increase access to lifesaving treatment. Read more here.

Additionally, the New York State Department of Health released findings from detailed assessments of Medicaid managed care organizations' compliance with the Federal Parity Act. The subsequent Statements of Findings and Statements of Deficiencies will bring necessary changes to better enforce parity between mental and physical health care for Medicaid beneficiaries. Read more here

Campaigns & Resources  

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The Kennedy Forum's latest round of Don’t Deny Me campaign posts for partner organizations addressed mental health during the holidays and recent overdose data from the CDC. See sample posts here and here.

Patrick Kennedy and The Kennedy Forum recently encouraged social media followers to apply to the first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum hosted by MTV in coordination with other nonprofit partners, The White House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and SAMHSA. Learn more about the program here.

Participation in a new 15-minute survey from NORC at the University of Chicago about barriers to getting in-network mental health and addiction treatment could help improve access to care for millions. It’s confidential, and available in English or Spanish. You can respond on your own behalf or on behalf of someone you know who has needed care, such as a family member, friend, or a patient. Take the survey here

NAMI recently conducted a poll of parents of school-aged children that showed most parents support mental health education and mental health days for their kids. Learn more here.

Psych Hub released three new educational videos, "What is Anorexia?," "Treatment for Anorexia," and "How to Support Someone with Anorexia" featuring Equip co-founder Erin Parks.

Partner Spotlight

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) president Dr. Kevin Sabet recently weighed in on new trends in youth drug and alcohol use and attitudes. The data, collected by the University of Michigan and funded by National Institutes of Health, found that due to the pandemic causing decreased social interactions, youth drug use rates have decreased among almost all substances, with the exception of marijuana. "Not even the pandemic could stop marijuana use rates from rising among current users. This data is extremely concerning and should act as a wake-up call for policymakers and the public. Legalization is having the effect that the industry wants: more, younger users using more of its THC super-charged substance." See the data here.

This month, Quartet Health announced its acquisition of Innovatel Telepsychiatry. Quartet Health, a tech-enabled mental health care company that unites referring providers, mental health providers, and health insurance plans to improve the care experience, and InnovaTel Telepsychiatry, a provider of virtual treatment services with differentiated expertise in treating complex conditions, will now partner to help millions of people have better access to quality mental health care. Read more here.

Equity Focus

The Satcher Health Leadership Institute’s Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE) at Morehouse School of Medicine, with support from Wellpath Care, recently announced a five-episode webinar roundtable series titled “Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps.” Each webinar session will feature expert panelists sharing perspectives on topics including policy implementation and data, behavioral health equity and incarceration, trauma-informed systems for justice-involved populations, re-entry programs and reducing recidivism, and housing access and environmental support systems. KSCMHE will kick off this programming with Session 1: “Policy Implementation and Data Use” on Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:00AM - 12:30PM EST via Zoom. Registration is free and participants can sign up in advance here.


Education Focus

This month, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory highlighting the urgent need to address the nation's youth mental health crisis. The advisory includes startling data from before and after the start of COVID-19, and outlines a series of recommendations to improve youth mental health across eleven sectors, including young people and their families, educators and schools, and media and technology companiesMurthy noted in the Advisory, “As we learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic, and start recovering and rebuilding, we have an opportunity to offer a more comprehensive, more fulfilling, and more inclusive vision of what constitutes public health...change can’t come soon enough.” Read more here

In the News  

Patrick and meQuilibrium CEO Jan Bruce recently spoke to Human Resource Executive Magazine about workplace mental health and wellbeing in the coming year. Read the article here

Patrick spoke to Axios about Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker addressing his mental health and domestic violence allegations. “If Herschel Walker wants to bring that story to the public, I'm all for it. I do not think he should be condemned for it, because in a very real way that life he's living today is very redeeming for those who may share a lot of the same story of abuse, both of themselves and their abusing others,” Kennedy said. Read the article here.


On December 2nd, Patrick participated in a panel entitled "Building Better Brain Health...and Reducing the Stigma," with Dr. Oz and Headspace Health CEO Russell Glass at the 10th Annual Forbes Healthcare Summit. The summit united leaders in health care, medicine, science, and business to discuss the accelerating pace of innovation and the bright outlook for breakthroughs and new models. Watch their full conversation here.

Patrick joined host Stefanie Bryant and author Kevin Dedner on a recent episode of the Joy of the Disinherited podcast to discuss racial disparities in mental health care. The podcast is based on Kevin Dedner's memoir of essays by the same name. Listen to the full episode, "Finding Common Ground on Mental Health," here

Upcoming Events

Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps
(Part 1) Policy Implementation and Data Use
January 18, 2022
The first session of the Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity's new five-part webinar series, Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps.” The series will consist of five virtual roundtables to address the landscape of inequities that affect justice-involved individuals.

Patrick will speak to RI International's 988 Implementation Learning Community about the impact of Medicare parity and crisis care

March 24-26, 2022
Join health care professionals from around the world for this unique virtual opportunity to enhance knowledge and improve patient outcomes. U.S.-based and international experts will discuss the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of psychiatric illnesses, debate controversies in the field, and share clinical knowledge. Patrick's featured keynote: "The Pursuit of Mental Health Equity," will air March 24th at 10AM EST.

Take care and enjoy the holiday break!
Kara Kukfa 
Chief of Staff 
Patrick J. Kennedy
The Kennedy Forum | 14 Central Avenue, PO Box 319 | Island Heights, NJ 08732