Senator Edward Kennedy pushed for equality among the underprivileged and desired reform for America’s mental health system. He was a gift from God — it was as if God had reached down from heaven through Sen. Kennedy to influence the very pinnacle of change. Following the funeral held August 29, 2009 that immersed America in sorrow — yet also in gratitude — the torch shall remain lit and glow brighter as people work in his name to finish the efforts he began in 1962. As President Obama said at his funeral, Senator Kennedy was “a champion for those who had none […] a kind and tender hero.”
If it were not for the service of the Kennedys and for their endless dedication to equality for mental and physical disabilities, Congress would not have passed the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008. The bill requires insurers to cover any mental health condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in the same manner they do health conditions. Individuals who struggle with substance abuse are also included. At the time of the Act’s passing, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “Illness of the brain must be treated just like illness anywhere else in the body.”
The Kennedys are the epitome of both the elegance and of the suffering that plagues human existence. If it were not for supporters of psychology’s battle against mental health inequality such as Sen. Patrick Kennedy (who himself suffers from depression and substance dependence) the Mental Health Parity Act would likely not have passed. To show adoration for one who fervently reached out to society, who tirelessly sought advancement, and took our needs to Congress to rid us of the bind of politics, we must carry on the legacy of the Kennedy era.
May the late Sen. Kennedy’s spirit remain in a little of each of us and may he always be an example for future change. If you would like to contribute to helping the cause that Sen. Kennedy worked much of his later career on, please visit the following websites:
- For more information on the 2008 Mental Health Parity: House Approves Bill on Mental Health Parity (NYT)
- A new vision for American health care from the American Psychological Association
- Psychology’s role in health care reform from the American Psychological Association
- Consider writing a letter to President Obama to support comprehensive legislation that will include an extension of the 5% Medicare psychology payment restoration and fully integrate psychologists and psychological services into the delivery system: http://capwiz.com/apapractice/mail/?id=3181&lvl=F&chamber=P
- Go to APA Practice Organization and type in your zip code on the upper right hand side into the search engine called “Legislative action center.”
As Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world!” And may Sen. Kennedy rest in peace knowing the good work he helped champion in his decades of service to our nation.