Wellbeing Wednesdays #15: Profiles in Mental Health Courage with Patrick J. Kennedy


On Wednesday, June 12, we spoke with former congressman and mental health advocate Patrick J. Kennedy about his new book, “Profiles in Mental Health Courage,” and the role resiliency plays in overcoming mental health and substance use challenges. Here’s a sneak peek:

On speaking up about mental health issues:

“For people who remember John F. Kennedy’s book ‘Profiles in Courage,’ it featured eight U.S. senators who demonstrated courage in overcoming parochial and local interest to support the national interest. Today, at a contemporary moment of public health and addiction crisis, we need people to be courageous and show how they’re struggling. If we’re not aware of how illnesses manifest and affect people in their daily lives, we’re not going to be that good at meeting their needs.”

On changing the perception of mental illness and addiction:

“We look at mental illness and addiction as a personal character flaw, that people would somehow live on the street, subject themselves to the justice system, alienate their family or get fired from jobs voluntarily. These are not things people choose in their lives. And yet, as a society, we still put this huge judgment on people who are living with these illnesses because we don’t understand the symptoms. Part of the reason why I wrote this book is because I want to distinguish the illness from the people.”

Learn how Kennedy used powerful narratives to bring America’s mental health crisis into focus — watch our 15th Wellbeing Wednesdays above and check out previous episodes!