Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy addresses URI graduates

South County
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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 3,000 undergraduates walked across the stage Sunday at the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston campus.

Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, an advocate for erasing the stigma of mental health and substance abuse disorders, delivered the commencement address.

Kennedy urged graduates to take care of their brain and use it for the better good of themselves and others.

“It is a time of particular uncertainty, I know for all of you.  I urge all of you to consider meeting uncertainty with action.  To dedicate some of your valuable time and youthful energy to a cause greater than yourself.  To filling in that gap and reaching for your best self and to leaving here today in pursuit of a purpose-filled life,”  Kennedy said.

During his 16 years in office, Kennedy fought to end discrimination against those with mental illness, substance abuse and other brain diseases.

He co-sponsored the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law in 2008.  The law provides millions of Americans, previously denied care, with access to mental health and addiction treatment by requiring insurance companies to cover illnesses of the brain, such as depression and addiction

Kennedy was also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the university. He was among five 2019 honorary degree recipients.

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