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July 16th, 2012
07:33 PM ET

Patrick Kennedy on mental health: "We need to open up the dialogue, we can't stigmatize these illnesses anymore"

Coming up this evening at 9 p.m., "Piers Morgan Tonight" welcomes former Congressman Patrick Kennedy for a candid discussion on life as a Kennedy, and his goal of destigmatizing psychiatric disorders.

Having openly struggled with addiction, as well as depression and bipolar disorder, Kennedy has used his public persona to become an advocate for those suffering from various mental illnesses:

"I spoke openly about it, because I knew that that's what my constituents wanted, and that's what they were anxious to hear. And in fact, many of them started talking to me about their own sets of challenges, that they felt ashamed about," he tells Piers Morgan. "Even though I grew up in a very different way from many of my constituents, they related to my experience, of fighting not only a mental illness, but the stigma that comes with that mental illness."

On the heels of Friday's car accident involving Kerry Kennedy – the most-recent headline-grabbing incident featuring America's most-famous family – the 44-year-old insists that neurological challenges don't discriminate, and aren't limited to those with a recognizable last name:

"Not only in my own family's case, which is just another family struggling, this is a common struggle. There's not a family in America that doesn't have a child with autism, a parent with Alzheimer's, a brother or sister with addiction or depression," says the former U.S. Representative for Rhode Island's 1st congressional district. "These are all illnesses that affect our behavior, and then we can't reject our family members because they act strange."

Watch the clip, and listen to the interview, then tune in this evening at 9 p.m. as the co-founder of One Mind for Research further details his life as a private citizen and his work in the field of mental health.
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soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. jbible

    excellent conversation with Patrick Kennedy. Kudos to him. Ambien is some serious stuff!!!

    July 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. amylou2

    Thank you Patrick Kennedy for discussing this subject. I have bipolar disorder and it took almost 30 years for me to get a correct diagnosis. I am well now, but I battle descrimination every time I go to the doctor, get lab work or pick up a prescription. Please keep fighting for those who do not have the mental energy to do it themselves.

    July 16, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. peairs

    Someone should tell peairs to shut the hell up and learn how to interveiw people

    July 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ajay Jain

    Piers Morgan interviews White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley to discuss Obama / Romney campaign issues but Piers Morgan Tonight Blog does not even mention the White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley's interview on his Blog. What a shame!

    In this regard AC360 is the most current Blog of all CNN shows and I commend Anderson in keeping up with his Blog's currency.

    I have considered Piers Morgan a very balanced interviewer but today while interviewing White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley Piers Morgan was very biased. I am ashamed of Piers Morgan. So from here on I am shifting my viewing to Rachel Maddow Show instead of Piers Morgan Tonight!!! Piers Morgan you lost a dedicated viewer tonight!!!

    July 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. thomas dunn

    mr. kennedy is a fine gentleman,sensitive to whats real in his family,and what is real in all our families. honest and courageous a tribute to his mother and father. thankyou.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Mary Coyte

    I would just like to warn people of the sleeping medicine Ambien. I remember when that accident happened to Teddy Kennedyl and now this to Kerry. This happened to me after being given this for a good nights sleep.
    actua;;y it was a night of terrorl I became paranoid. Thought I had been secretly slipped off to a weird hospital. Nurses were in on this and I thought very sinister. It lasted until about 7 a.m. I really sympathize with the Kennedys, because they are so well known, no one seems to understand. I don't think it has anything to do with drinking. You just can't imagine that one instant you are yourself and the next like a click in the braiin. , You are someone entirely different.
    Very, Very dangerous medicine for some people.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Hasmik nazari

    patrick i need your help

    July 17, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Veronica

    Mr. Patrick,
    I do not even know where to begin questioning mental illness...My entourage mental illness is from such a diverse walk of life. Mine just arises from a back surgery "prosthetic disc replacement L4/L5" and all the pain and medication has changed the normal way I use to be.

    As a result, I now feel inadequatout intimidated, out of touch and scared to re-enter the corporate work force.

    Is this caused by our wonderful pharmaceutical Co? Or are we fair game to the pharmaceutical Co?
    I remember watching on CBC a report about oxiconton, where they claimed Oxicoton was not an habit forming drug. I wonder if they have now settled their lawsuit in the US and Canada?

    I have stayed away from misusing that habit forming drug post surgery. Now i am worry of the effects of the so called non-habit forming drugs. I feel something being different about me. I am not the same. I am trying to pin point but my mind is not as sharp as it used to be....I feel!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:48 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. worldcares

    I did not see this interview. I wish I had.
    Piers, I hope you will replay this interview on the week end.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Adrienne Mulligan

    Thank you, Piers and Patrick, for the segment on addiction... but the story doesn’t end there. Please address the other casualties in America’s “war on drugs”: chronic pain patients. Their need is very real, but they are made to suffer due to the paranoia surrounding addiction. Addiction, dependency, and tolerance are three distinctly different things. Patients should be informed of risks, but health care professionals should fully understand the difference, and take the time necessary to develop an open and compassionate doctor/patient relationship. Studies show that painful patients rarely “become” addicts, unless predisposed. Emergency room personnel seem to be trained to assume every painful patient is a drug seeker. I have experienced “ER abuse” twice in the last 6 months, while traveling from AZ to TN. Once was after a face-plant in a parking lot due to broken pavement… my TMJ locked up, and I could not speak coherently. The doctor didn’t even step into my room; he read my file from the doorway and refused me treatment due to the medications I was already on. I told him I didn’t need a prescription, only acute treatment to relax the muscle spasm locking my jaw. He refused to treat me, and I left, but before traveling on, I obtained my records. He had fabricated an entire exam, falsely stating that I could “freely move my jaw up and down and back and forth”. He also stated that I left angry that he would not fill my prescriptions. Both were bald-faced lies. Such treatment is the norm, these days, and I am sure I am not the only one who has fallen victim to it… more than once.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:00 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Pat

    Piers Morgan is showing his bias against Obama more and more and he needs to chill out and shut the hell up. I'm not watching that a.hole again!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Pat

    Piers..you're a racist replulican so and so!

    July 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Siri

    Of course I am not glad that Patrick Kennedy has a terrible illness and has suffered. But hopefully he can do what Ethel Kennedy did for the mentally retarded decades ago- get them rights and dignity. Yes, I have a mental illness called Bipolar Depression, which means I go from being profoundly depressed to relatively normal but with severe sleeping issues and difficulty living a normal life in many ways. Contrary to what many people say, this is not always treatable. My doctor is the BEST, and he says that there is nothing more that western medicine can offer me, and he does not say this to be mean; it's the truth. My life is misery, and part of that misery is hiding the reality from everyone I know because almost NO ONE understands. And YES YES YES, medical personnel can be AWFUL. Recently I was held against my will in an ER, where I went due to a bladder problem. The nurse found out that I had a history of depression and in the PAST (distant) had thoughts of hurting myself, and I was forced to sit in a room with two security guards. They are not allowed to do that unless you are a danger to yourself, which I was NOT. I told my psychiatrist who said it was awful, and he said, "Wait until they get you in the system for needing pain medication". It is so unfair and the stigma is horrible. I am praying that Patrick Kennedy is reading this; NAMI is just not powerful enough. Please email me Mr. Kennedy's address so I can implore him to help us.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Amy

    Blah, blah, blah. Just don't get behind the wheels of a car, okaaaay?

    July 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Traci Goll

    I am the Director of Horizon HIgh School, Dane County's ONLY Recovery school. We educate teens that struggle with alcohol and drug addictions, as well as other mental health issues. Our teens benefit greatly from hearing stories from adults that have had the same struggles and work daily to overcome it! Thank you!

    July 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Douglas Arnold

    Pls see my daughter's blog to read a horrific story about marijuana and a 17 year old in Georgia. See
    rachelsuzking.blogspot.com to read An Unexpected Journey. Mr Morgan adding more made easy drugs to the society has cost me dearly.

    A Broken Granddad,

    w.doug.arnold@gmail.com

    January 6, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
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    February 11, 2013 at 4:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 13, 2013 at 6:13 am | Report abuse | Reply

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