Patrick Kennedy talks mental health, gun control and college life at Vanderbilt

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On the night before the one-month anniversary of the Florida school shootings, Vanderbilt University hosted former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy to talk about mental health.

Kennedy, the youngest child of longtime Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, is a leading advocate for mental health, having struggled with bipolar disorder and an addiction to prescription painkillers, himself.

At the talk, Kennedy highlighted how mental health and drug abuse affects more than just individuals, but families and entire support systems.

The former U.S. rep also addressed mental health among students, stressing the importance of mental health hygiene, like a good night’s rest, eating right, and connection among social circles.

Vanderbilt Sophomore Emily Goncalves said the stress that comes with college, alongside what happened in Parkland, Florida made Tuesday’s talk that more important.

“These school shootings are tragic, they’re very concerning,” said Goncalves. “We’re on campus ourselves, I think it’s something that students care deeply about. It raises questions about gun control, mental health, and these are discussions we need to be having.”

The discussion was part of the University’s Chancellor Lecture series, and was held in conjunction with Vanderbilt’s “Go There” mental health awareness campaign.