Maybe because his son, Senator Patrick Kennedy, suffers from bipolar disorder and because Senator Ted Kennedy was truly a compassionate man, he sought equality in our society and became a national leader in the improving mental health care.

As chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Kennedy was a true advocate in efforts to reform our nation’s health-care system. His pioneering efforts improved the state of mental health treatment in America.


  • In the 1990's his leadership was instrumental in passing the Mental Health Parity Act. The bill allows insurers to cover any mental health condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to the same dollar limits as medical/surgical benefits.
  • In 2000 he introduced the Mental Health Early Intervention, Treatment and Prevention Act of 2000. This legislation addressed issues such as an anti-stigma campaign, suicide prevention and funding to help mental illness treatments among others.
  • In 2001 Senator Kennedy sponsored the Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act to strengthen and make permanent the Mental Health Parity Act.
  • In 2008 the Senator championed historic legislation to further reform inequities in the way mental health disorders are treated by the insurance industry.
  • From 2004-2009 Senator Kennedy led the efforts for increased mental health research. During that time, funding increased from $35 million to $70 million.


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If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 800-273-TALK or 911 immediately. For crisis support via text message, text LISTEN to 741741.