By Mike Lillis - 08/17/12 02:05 PM EDT
In treatment for a bipolar disorder in Minnesota, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) was visited Thursday by former colleague Patrick Kennedy, who has also battled mental health issues.
Kennedy, a Rhode Island Democrat who retired from Congress last year, described a "deeply emotional" talk with Jackson, whom he said is suffering from "deep depression," according to NBC News.
"He's worried about his political future," Kennedy told NBC. "I tried to emphasize there is a future."
Kennedy, who served eight terms before retiring at the end of 2010, spent much of his time on Capitol Hill focused on eliminating the stigma of mental illness and the discrepancies in care between those conditions and physical ailments. Those efforts paid off in 2008 with the enactment of legislation requiring insurance companies to treat mental health diseases no differently from neurological conditions, when plans cover both.
The issue is a personal one for Kennedy. The son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has fought depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, and has undergone treatment at the same Mayo Clinic where Jackson is staying.
Kennedy on Thursday gave no hints about Jackson's political future, according to NBC, but praised Jackson for "staying with" the treatment program and "showing people this is a serious issue that should be dealt with like any other medical condition."