Vice President Joe Biden speaks during Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's annual fundraising steak fry dinner, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, in Indianola, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
BOSTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden planned to join Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy for a forum on policies that affect people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities or addiction.
The two-day event marks the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's signing of the Community Mental Health Act. The legislation, the last signed by Kennedy before his assassination, helped transform the way people with mental illness are treated and cared for in the United States.
Chelsea Clinton and Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who's been treated for a personality disorder, also plan to attend the opening night gala.
Biden, Sebelius and Marshall are expected to speak at the event.
Clinton, vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, will moderate a conference panel on public health and community approaches to addressing behavioral health disorders.
Patrick, the late president's nephew and a longtime mental health advocate, said he hopes the forum will help remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The Wednesday night gala will be followed by a daylong conference Thursday at the Westin Copley Place in Boston.
The forum also will include a discussion of the importance of stemming suicide among veterans and improving mental health care for a generation of veterans returning from a decade of war.
The law signed by Kennedy in 1963 aimed to build mental health centers accessible to all Americans so that those with mental illnesses could be treated while working and living at home, rather than being kept in state institutions that sometimes were neglectful or abusive.
Recent deadly mass shootings, including at the Washington Navy Yard and a Colorado movie theater, have been perpetrated by men who were apparently not being adequately treated for serious mental illnesses.
Those tragedies have renewed public attention on the mental health system and areas where Kennedy's hopes for the treatment and care of those with mental illness were never realized.
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