Vice President Joe Biden will hit The Hub on Wednesday to speak at a John F. Kennedy Presidential Library dinner event hosted by The Kennedy Forum which advocates the importance of community mental health and related services.
Biden’s visit to Boston comes after President Obama vowed to make mental health an issue on the national level back in June, and Attorney General Martha Coakley’s speech earlier this month in front of the Public Health Commission’s Cost Trends Hearing in which she called for a sharper focus on mental health services in and around Boston.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2008, just 13.4 percent of adults in the United States received treatment for a mental health problem, a number far too low for such a sprawling array of illnesses that range from acute anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress, and severe depression.
Biden and his Washington cohorts were privy to this first-hand after a lone gunman with a history of mental issues opened fire in the Washington D.C. Navy Yard killing 12. Most recently a woman, thought to have suffered from post-partum depression, was fatally shot in a standoff with D.C. authorities after sparking a car chase from Capitol Hill to the White House.
Even Coakley has played witness to the horrible capacity of mental illness, referencing in her keynote address “her brother Edward who battled mental illness for much of his life, and committed suicide at age 33.”
The Kennedy Forum — led by Patrick J Kennedy, a former Congressman from Rhode Island, son to longtime Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, and nephew to late President John F. Kennedy — spearheads the discussion of mental health issues and services by fundraising, advocating, and promoting the Community Mental Health Act — historical legislation enacted by JFK 50 years ago that has since become the foundation of contemporary mental health policy in our country.
Biden won’t be the only big-name in attendance at the event held on Wednesday, stretching into Thursday. According to MassLive, “Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of former president Bill Clinton, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall” will also be speaking or moderating panels of some form. Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has worked to garner more attention of mental illness towards the NFL through a number of charities and donations.