Patrick J. Kennedy and Dr. David Satcher Rally Behind a New Vision for Mental Health and Addiction in America and Outline
"The System We Need" 

Former Rhode Island Congressman and U.S. Surgeon General call on all presidential candidates to make mental health and addiction a top policy priority as part of second annual State of the Union in Mental Health and Addiction


WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2016 -- Former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy and former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher are convening advocates, policymakers, government officials, healthcare providers and business leaders in Washington, D.C. today to outline a new approach to mental health and addiction in America, while calling both Democrats and Republicans to stand together to make this vision a reality. Dubbed "The System We Need," Kennedy and Satcher are defining an approach that moves beyond where we are today, and puts an emphasis on addressing five key areas: mental health parity enforcement, integration and coordination within the system, brain fitness and resilience, quality and transparency, and technology. Taken together, these areas represent innovation across the spectrum of mental health and addiction care, while promoting better outcomes for the millions of Americans with a mental health condition or addiction.

"The State of the Union in Mental Health and Addiction is one of great promise, but it is going to take all of us working together to realize its full potential," said Patrick J. Kennedy, founder of The Kennedy Forum. "These are not intractable illnesses without solutions, nor are they moral failings. We know what works and have the game plan. Now we need to rally behind it, demand change, and send a clear message that delay is not an option when it comes to creating the system we need."

The second annual State of the Union in Mental Health and Addiction is hosted by The Kennedy Forum and The Satcher Health Leadership Institute's Kennedy Center for Mental Health Policy and Research. Working together, "The System We Need" was created as a blueprint for change, and represents more than two years of foundational work with a broad cross section of the healthcare community, from payers and providers to patient advocates and business leaders. The goal is to improve lives and transform the broken healthcare system.

"I see great opportunity to change the trajectory on mental health and addiction in this country, to reduce stigma, and to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their optimal health potential," said Dr. David Satcher, Founding Director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and the 16th Surgeon General of the United States. "At the same time, challenges remain. We must work at the state and national level to ensure that health equity is a top concern, and access to healthcare for low-income populations is protected and expanded. It is essential that we secure solutions directed at filling the gaps that currently exist in the system."

Kennedy and Satcher conceived the State of the Union in Mental Health and Addiction as a way to assess what is working in the field, shine a spotlight on promising practices, highlight gaps, and promote a vision for transformational change. This year's event features a panel discussion addressing the solutions that exist within "The System We Need," featuring Patrick Conway, Deputy Administrator for Innovation & Quality, Chief Medical Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Samuel Nussbaum, Executive VP, Clinical Health Policy & Chief Medical Officer, Anthem; Dan Pelino, General Manager, Global Public Sector, IBM; Margaret VanAmringe, Executive VP of Public Policy and Government Relations, The Joint Commission; and Rick Kellar, President, Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation.

"One of the most potent forces for change is open dialogue and discussion among all of the stakeholders in the mental health and addiction community," said Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of The National Council for Behavioral Health and moderator of the panel discussion. "Only then can we be assured that we are moving toward real solutions in an inclusive way."

As part of the program, The Kennedy Forum will also unveil an animated five-minute video, designed for the general public, outlining the specific proposals supporting "The System We Need" in more detail. The video will be streamed at 


Click to Watch the Full Event

About The Kennedy Forum
The Kennedy Forum was founded by Patrick J. Kennedy in 2013, and is focused on advancing the current ideas, policies and programming in behavioral health known to be effective, while shining a light on the solutions of the future. We seek to provide leadership toward a common vision: improving the lives of individuals living with mental illness and addiction, and promoting behavioral health for all. 

About the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI)
The Mission of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is to develop a diverse group of exceptional health leaders, advance and support comprehensive health system strategies, and actively promote policies and practices that will reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities in health communities. 

About Morehouse School of Medicine
Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. In 2011, MSM was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation's No. 1 medical school in fulfilling a social mission. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master's degrees. For more information, please visit 

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SOURCE The Kennedy Forum