I just finished Patrick Kennedy's newly released book, A Common Struggle, and I would recommend it as an interesting and informative read.
For anyone interested in the Advocacy part of the NAMI mission, the narrative provides a wealth of background information on the long and complicated effort in presenting and passing a mental health parity law. NAMI, at the national level, was a part of the lobby for this effort. Both Patrick, on the House side and his father, Ted Kennedy, in the Senate, were major advocates for the passage of the bill, but based on their own experiences had different expectations of the legislation.
The other take away from the book, one that is especially relevant in our present society, is Kennedy's vivid description of his own illness (bipolar disorder and depression) and his well known problems with alcohol and drug addiction. The relationship between the illnesses becomes widely apparent and should be considered and seriously explored as we go forward in our fight against the opiate epidemic present in today's world.
Kennedy also addresses the issues of stigma and shame attached to both addiction and mental illness and details the efforts of his famous family to keep these problems under control and hidden from the American public. Kennedy left Congress in 2011 and is devoting his time to advocacy for treatment and research of brain diseases. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Amy, and children.
Read & written by Jackie Lane