Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy was among the speakers who highlighted the disparity in insurance coverage for mental illness at an event at Richard Stockton College.

Congress has passed legislation requiring health insurance plans to offer mental health coverage no more restrictive than medical coverage, but implementation has been difficult.

“A lot of families end up paying out of pocket for coverage or sending people out of state to get support,” said Aaron Kucharski, an advocacy trainer for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, the nonprofit organization that co-sponsored the event with the college.

The event drew a capacity crowd to the Campus Center Theater as advocates, family members and patients spoke about the problem.

Kennedy, who co-founded the nonprofit One Mind For Research to promote the study of brain disorders, said that with a “diabetic you don’t say ‘you’re a moral failure’ for eating a piece of chocolate cake.”

But with addiction, he said, “it’s your fault if you get sick again.”

Kucharski said the goal of the event was to raise awareness of the problem through events like Tuesday’s.

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