Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) is speaking out as part of a star-studded social media campaign aimed at ending mental health stigmas by sharing a message to his teenage self.

“When I was 13, I didn’t know what I was suffering with,” Kennedy, who disclosed to constituents in 2000 that he has bipolar disorder, says in the video, poised to be released Wednesday and obtained exclusively by ITK.

“I didn’t know how to connect with those others that were my own age and going through the same thing as a way of relieving the sense of isolation I was going through,” says Kennedy in the clip he filmed for the Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign.


As part of the initiative that just launched, Hollywood stars and other famous faces — including “La La Land’s” Emma Stone, “Girls” actress Lena Dunham, Olympian Michael Phelps, actor Jesse Eisenberg and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, among others — are sharing on the non-profit’s website and social media channels “personal videos about growing up with a mental health or learning disorder and the advice they would give their younger selves.”

“I would certainly give my 13-year-old self access to his peers, to the experts that could explain the feelings that I went through, that could show me a way out and enable me to see a future which was one that I could have a sense of hope about and a sense of a direction towards,” 49-year-old Kennedy, who also battled a prescription painkiller and cocaine addiction before leaving Congress in 2011, says in the video.

Kennedy was honored Tuesday at the Child Mind Institute’s annual awards gala in New York for his work on behalf of children’s mental health awareness.