Before I talk about the Patty Duke Mental Health Project, let me express my own sadness at the loss of Patty Duke, she was a wonderful woman and an incredible mental health advocate and activist. I didn’t really know her acting work, I’ve a few of her movies, but not the TV show that she was most famous for, that was from my parent’s generation. But I did know her mental health activism work. I stood in line to shake her hand at the 2006 NAMI National Conference after she was awarded the Lionel Aldridge Award. She had a warm smile and listened as I awkwardly explained my little mental health website and she encouraged me to continue my efforts no matter what difficulties I encountered. It was a simple case of a celebrity being polite to a fan, just one in a million – someone she would likely never remember, but I will never forget it.
The reason I’m writing today is to honor her in a different way and to ask those with the means to support the Patty Duke Mental Health Project.
“Anna (her given name) fought for civil rights, gay rights and the rights of working actors to name just a few. Her greatest achievement was confronting her mental illness and making her story public. She crossed the Nation speaking and campaigning and lobbying for mental health. My mom took her place as a mental health advocate in the greatest tradition of noble leadership.”
Acton & Patty Duke’s Son
Her son, actor Sean Astin, speaks passionately on the Crowdrise page about the families final conversations with her. She spoke of her passion for mental health advocacy and the desire for her work to continue beyond her life.
The goal of the Patty Duke Mental Health Project in my understanding will be to fuel her ideas of a multi-level approach aimed at relieving the suffering of those living with mental illness as well as their families and communities. This will be managed with public awareness campaigns, lobbying efforts, and a variety of additional programs, hopefully including some peer-led and experimental efforts, which I feel are in line with her vision.
“The funds raised here will establish the Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative: the legal expenses, the formation of a board of directors, the establishing of a location, the hiring of an experienced executive director to manage professional fundraising, initial staffing and all of the costs associated with launching an endeavor of this sort.”
Acton & Patty Duke’s Son
As long as one of her family serves on the board, I feel the Patty Duke Mental Health Project will be able to move forward with the same passion that she held in all her advocacy work. I look forward to having their voice added to the discussion.
There is one more favor I would ask of you today. Please consider signing this petition so a true Mental Health Hero can receive the honors due her by our country.
“To have the President of the United States formally recognize the life and accomplishments of the woman knows as Patty Duke. Mental Health advocate, military families advocate, US veteran advocate and an American entertainer with talents beyond description. Her real name was Anna Marie Duke-Pearce but she used her stage name of Patty Duke to bring attention to issues that really mattered to Americans. Mental health awareness, using her own mental health issues as a way to inform others that mental health care was and is paramount for those who cannot speak for themselves. She personally provided words of support to those she encountered and she has provided testimony to members and committees of the US Congress. She was “America’s Sweetheart”. She was a TRUE Miracle Worker.
Please help us spread the word for both of these efforts by sharing this article as widely as you are able.