By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – This is the 50th Anniversary of the last piece of legislation President John F. Kennedy ever signed– the Community Mental Health Act, which transformed the way mental illness was treated. To mark the occasion, his nephew is giving the first Kennedy Community Mental Health Award, and it’s going to a Philadelphian.
Dr. Aaron Beck is considered the father of “cognitive therapy,” the widely used treatment for a range of illnesses, including depression and addiction. The Beck Inventories are the standard for measuring such disorders. His achievements will be honored at the inaugural Kennedy Forum in Boston Wednesday night.
Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, the forum founder, calls him a hero.
“In thinking of who has made an incredible difference in the last 50 years in advancing the treatment of people with mental illness, I could think of no one who’s made a bigger difference to more people than Aaron Beck,” Kennedy said.
Beck is a professor emeritus of Penn and founder of the Beck Institute in Bala Cynwyd. He lives in Center City with his wife, former Superior Court Judge Phyllis Beck.