Kennedy Forum Illinois aims to end stigma around mental illness, addiction

When it launched last year, Kennedy Forum Illinois was a little-known advocacy group trying to improve mental health and addiction treatment, increase access and combat stigma — a battle that its founder, Patrick Kennedy, has called the “new civil rights movement.”

Earlier this month, almost 800 business leaders, lawmakers and medical experts convened at the Hilton Chicago for the group’s annual conference to confront issues ranging from early childhood brain development to veterans care. The daylong event opened with an invocation from Archbishop Blase J. Cupich and culminated with Kennedy — the youngest child of Sen. Ted Kennedy — sharing his vision for a more mentally healthy America.

“My friend, Jay Doherty, once told me: ‘If you want to do something right, you go to Chicago,'” said Kennedy, referring to the president of the City Club of Chicago. The audience roared in approval.

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