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Georgia Southern to host mental health advocate Patrick J. Kennedy on April 1

Georgia Southern University’s School of Nursing will host pioneer in mental health policy and advocacy, former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, to discuss “My Journey: Making Mental Health Essential Health” on April 1. Kennedy’s presentation is free and open to the public and will take place on the University’s Armstrong Campus in the Fine Arts Building Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Kennedy served Rhode Island’s First Congressional District for 16 years, championing causes essential to the well-being of all Americans. During his time on Capitol Hill, he was the author and chief sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Federal Parity Law), groundbreaking legislation that requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders no more restrictively than treatment for illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. Calling it the “civil rights issue of our time,” he successfully oversaw the bill’s passage, and in 2008, it was signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Upon leaving Congress in 2011, Kennedy devoted his professional life to advocating for those with mental health and substance use disorders. He founded The Kennedy Forum, an innovative nonprofit focused on advancing evidence-based practices, policies, and programming for the treatment of mental health and addiction, and co-founded One Mind, an organization that pushes for greater global investment in brain research, which Kennedy has called “the next great frontier in medicine.”

He is the co-author of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction, in which he weaves together both private and professional narratives to create a roadmap for equality in the mental health community and outlines a bold plan for the future of mental health policy.

Kennedy will visit Georgia Southern in collaboration with the University’s School of Nursing, which established the APN-PMHNP track in 2015 to uniquely serve the psychiatric and mental health needs of rural and underserved communities. Georgia Southern was one of the first universities in the state to focus heavily on telemedicine training. The nine-course online track partners with clinical environments that provide team-based care, includes on-campus simulation learning experiences, and previously included short summer intensive sessions with national content experts.

The event is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award to the University’s School of Nursing for advanced nursing education totaling $1,588,794 with zero percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/R2 institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving nearly 26,500 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville, and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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