Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, left, and Peter O'Brien, owner of O'Brien's restaurant, at a Union League Club breakfast on Tuesday. Kennedy was in town to launch the University of Illinois Center on Depression and Resilience. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)

Patrick Kennedy discusses mental health and life away from politics

EXCERPT:

Q. Do you think you could have maintained your sobriety and stayed in Congress?

A. In Congress, I was always trying to be everything to everybody. Now, I’m focusing on being somebody to someone — namely my wife and children. That is more grounding emotionally and therefore gives me a better chance of remaining sober than if I were still in public office.

Q. What are you proudest of?

A. I consider the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act not only the legislative highlight of my service in Congress but a personal one as well since I got to work on it with my father who was the primary sponsor on the Senate side. It was his last bill signed into law and President Bush signed it on the same desk that President Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act almost 50 years earlier.

Q. What’s next?

A. I’ll be back in Chicago on Nov. 13 for the launch of the Kennedy Forum Illinois, featuring many speakers, including (Bears wide receiver) Brandon Marshall and (actress) Mariel Hemingway, both of whom have been touched by mental illness. To learn more or request an invitation, visit thekennedyforumillinois.org.

Read the full interview in the Chicago Tribune.

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