02/29/2016 01:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Foundations of Hope for Flawless Brain Health


"The system we've grown up with is a system of separate and unequal care." -- Patrick J. Kennedy. February 23, 2016. The Kennedy Forum, Mental Health State of the Union.

On Tuesday, February 23, we were privileged to join the Kennedy Forum for its second annual Mental Health State of the Union, which brought together thought leaders, clinicians, health care providers, politicians, and activists, who have been instrumental in fighting for better mental health policies in the U.S.

Spearheaded by Patrick Kennedy -- who, in a particularly emotional moment, was awarded a medal of sobriety by his wife, Amy Kennedy -- this meeting of the nation's most passionate proponents of mental health reform was electric. Something groundbreaking happened here; in the future, perhaps, this State of the Union will be remembered as the time where we stood up and said definitively, in the words of Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice: "Without mental health, there is no health."

Community, integrated care, equality of coverage, confronting discrimination and shame -- these were but a few of the key themes touched on by speakers and panelists. The most inspiring words came from the keynote speakers themselves, former Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher; the president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Valerie Montgomery; and the inimitable Patrick J. Kennedy, whose unabashed words rang throughout the stateroom, garnering standing ovations and echoing the infamous Kennedy fervor of decades past.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be dissecting the lessons gleaned from these important speeches, including the role of technology in mental health treatment, the continued fight for mental health care parity, the vital role of language in dispelling discrimination, the necessity of instituting social and emotional learning (SEL) in our educational systems, and the importance of framing mental health as a civil rights issue.

We're calling it the "Five Foundations of Hope for Flawless Brain Health." Please join us as we discuss and disseminate these crucial next steps for brain health progress. For a sneak peek at what we'll be talking about, watch this video, which premiered at the State of the Union, below; and to learn more about the beginnings of this revolutionary movement, read our previous blogs on the work of the Kennedy Forum.

Here's to Patrick Kennedy and his vision of flawless brain health for all!