June 10, 2019

Partnership with The Kennedy Forum elevates mental health

Kaiser Permanente joins with mental health advocates to increase mental health awareness ahead of 2020 election season.

New Mental Health for US campaign launches today.

Contact: Marc Brown

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kaiser Permanente is partnering with The Kennedy Forum and a coalition of prominent mental health and addiction organizations in the launch of Mental Health for US, a national initiative designed to elevate policy conversations about mental health as key discussion points during the U.S. presidential election.

The bipartisan initiative was launched June 10, 2019, by former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, founder of The Kennedy Forum, during the 10th-annual advocacy forum of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Washington, D.C. Kaiser Permanente is supporting the initiative and the coalition, which includes The Kennedy Forum, AFSP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Council for Behavioral Health, Mental Health America, the JED Foundation, One Mind, and the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation. The initiative is co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith, a longtime mental health advocate.

The goal of the campaign is to bring continued awareness of mental health issues to the forefront of a national discussion at key points during a presidential election, while improving the nation’s literacy around mental health and encouraging those in the mental health and addiction community to take a guiding role, leading the conversation on a national scale.

“The growing demand for mental health care and the shortage of professionals who provide it is a national crisis affecting our friends and families, our communities, and all health care organizations,” said Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente. “We must continue to work together to solve this challenge. This partnership is an important and significant step forward toward a shared goal."

“Kaiser Permanente is committed to improving mental health and well-being in the country,” Tyson said. “We are leading through significant investments in staffing and facilities, the use of innovations including telehealth and recovery-focused care, and our continuing commitment to raising awareness around mental health issues and reducing stigma.”

“There is so much more we must do to address the gaps in mental health care across the country,” said Don Mordecai, MD, national leader for Mental Health and Wellness at Kaiser Permanente. “By working together with other leaders on mental health education, along with advancing an integrated approach to mental, physical, and emotional health, we hope to lead the way in bringing attention, accessibility, and best practices on this important issue.”

Tyson added, “The initiative’s policy platform, focused on areas of prevention, access, and intervention and recovery, aligns with Kaiser Permanente’s commitment to total health.”

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition and 1 in 12 live with addiction. By educating the public on the severity of America’s health crisis, Mental Health for US will use civic engagement with voters and candidates during the election and seek to be a catalyst in addressing mental health and addiction.

“The important work in transforming mental health care in our country does not rest with one organization or institution. We need all stakeholders to come together, and I thank Kaiser Permanente for joining as a champion of this initiative,” said Kennedy, who was lead sponsor of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

The launch of the initiative is the first of many forums where industry leaders will join forces to educate the public and politicians about mental health issues. In Chicago on June 11, 2019, The Kennedy Forum will convene advocates, employers, HR professionals, labor leaders, and others to explore innovative strategies in workplace well-being.

For more information on the Mental Health for US initiative, visit www.mentalhealthforus.net.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.