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Launched in 2004, the Common Experience initiative seeks to get students and the university community thinking on a common theme; the 2013-14 theme is “Minds Matter: Exploring Mental Health and Illness.”

What: LBJ Distinguished Lecture

Who: Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8

Where: Evans Auditorium, Texas State University

Cost: Free

Live the ‘Experience’

The book for this year’s Common Experience series is “Behind Happy Faces,” described by its publisher as “the most comprehensive book about mental health issues for high school and college students.” Patrick Kennedy has helped promote his cousin’s book on mental illness. Order both books from Amazon here.

by BRAD ROLLINS

Patrick Joseph Kennedy II, whose mental illness and drug addiction tarnished and cut short his tenure in Congress and then inspired him to embark on an advocacy campaign, will deliver the LBJ Distinguished Lecture on Tuesday, Oct. 8 as part of the Common Experience at Texas State University.

Son of the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy and nephew of the former president, Kennedy says he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been candid in recent years about his alcohol and drug abuse, including prescription painkillers like OxyContin. In 2006, he checked in to the Mayo Clinic for treatment after driving into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol in the early morning hours of May 24.

While in office, he used his perch as a congressman — and as a Kennedy — to successfully co-sponsor legislation in 2008 that requires health insurers to cover more of the cost of treating mental illness. He has called for “a national conversation on mental health that will allow us to finally remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and continue tackling a number of pressing mental health challenges.”

“It’s chemistry, not character,” Kennedy has said of mental illness.

After declining to run for a ninth term in 2010 — marking the first time in more than six decades that a member of his family did not hold federal office — Kennedy launched a nonprofit research and public awareness organization, One Mind For Research, which he has called “a moonshot to the mind.” He tours the country drawing attention to causes ranging from the high rate of suicide among recent U.S. war veterans to the epidemic of mentally ill people in jail or prison, instead of treatment. He has also emerged as a leading opponent of marijuana legalization.

Kennedy’s visit to Texas State coincides with the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s Community Mental Health Act that laid groundwork for mental health policies in the United States today. Four years later, Texas State alumnus President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Mental Health Amendments of 1967 that furthered mental health services in the United States.

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This story uses material from a Texas State University press release on Kennedy’s visit.

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6 thoughts on “Patrick Kennedy to deliver university’s LBJ lecture

  1. How embarrassing for Texas State. Patrick Kennedy is a failed privileged person who should be keep away from college students or at the most, used as an example of how not to squander ones life on drugs and alcohol. This is a man who once bragged that “I have never worked a f**king day in my life”. He was born to every privilege imaginable and yet has squandered his life on revolving door rehab. Who at the University picks these people to deliver the LBJ lecture. Have they no shame?

  2. I completely agree with Charles. Its a miracle this guy hasn’t drunkely wrecked his car and killed someone, just like his father.

  3. Watch Patrick (“My uncle was the president!”) Kennedy travel from his 20,000 sq. ft. summer cottage in the Hamptons via private jet and then ride alone to the university in a chauffeur-driven limousine. In Patrick’s presentation, listen to him lecture the little people on sustainability and the moral imperative of reducing greenhouse gases, before seeing him jet away to his 34,002 sq. foot winter home in Florida, where he lives alone with his underpaid Guatemalan maid and grossly overweight Bichon-poodle, at a comfortable 73 climate-controlled degrees year round.

  4. Wow, so much hate here. I suppose hearing someone talk about managing a debilitating mental illness and struggling with addiction isn’t at all worthwhile — let alone the message that money and privilege won’t protect anyone from either.

  5. What does he offer that can not be found at the local AA meeting hall? Should people pay more attention to him because he is related to someone famous? Do we need him to be the example of money & privilege not protecting one from mental illness & drugs etc..? He still lives the privileged lifestyle, and is probably being paid to speak about his problems. Let him live the life of one of us common folk for a while, and deal with his problems as the rest of us do. Would that diminish the impact of his special message to us little folk?

  6. I thought it was a fantastic event! I’ve heard nothing but positive comments from the people who attended. The audience of 800-900 people was polite and attentive. Patrick Kennedy spoke openly of his addiction and mental health challenges and the importance of his faith, family, and counseling to his recovery process. His candor was inspiring to those of us who are struggling with our own imperfections. Kennedy warmly greeted and chatted with students, posing with dozens who wanted their picture taken with him, and never appeared to be impatient or irritated. There were a lot of smiles on the faces of participants.

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