Sir Richard Branson, Secretary Tom Vilsack, Senators Chris Murphy, Bill Cassidy to Join The Atlantic's Summit on Mental Health & Addiction

Tuesday, April 12, 9AM-12:45PM; 1777 F St NW, Washington, D.C.; full agenda released

Washington, D.C. (April 6, 2016)-- Business magnate Sir Richard Branson will be interviewed as part of The Atlantic’s “Summit on Mental Health & Addiction,” on Tuesday, April 12 at noon EST. Branson, a leader of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of drug use and possession, will close out the morning event with a one-on-one conversation with The Atlantic's Steve Clemons, where he will discuss his efforts to shift global and national drug policies.

The half-day Summit will also explore mental illness and addiction through a variety of lenses: veterans and suicide; deinstitutionalization of mental illness; the rise of heroin and opioid abuse; how America copes with pain; and the federal government’s role when it comes to addressing mental health challenges, from funding treatment to gun issues. A full agenda, including speakers and topics, is below.

Media interested in attending should contact The Atlantic’s Sydney Simon (

The National Council for Behavioral Health is a Founding Level underwriter of The Atlantic’s Summit on Mental Health & Addiction.



WHAT: The Atlantic’s Summit on Mental Health & Addiction
WHEN: Tuesday, April 12; 9AM-12:45PM EST
WHERE: 1777 F Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20006


(**All timing and speakers subject to change; timing is denoted in EST**)

9:00 AM: Introduction & Welcome

9:10 AM: Taking Action: Mental Health Reform Act of 2016

  • Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  • Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)
  • With Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic

9:40 AM: In Search of The Answer

  • Gabrielle Glaser, Author, Her Best-Kept Secret
  • Scott Stossel, Editor, The Atlantic / Author, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind

10:00 AM: Cook County Jail: America's Largest Mental-Health Facility

  • Nneka Jones Tapia*, Executive Director, Cook County (Illinois) Department of Corrections (*via Skype)
  • With Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic

10:15 AM: Confronting a Crisis: Veterans & Suicide

  • Caitlin Thompson, Deputy Director, Suicide Prevention, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • With Ross Andersen, Senior Editor, The Atlantic

10:50 AM: Treating Pain

  • Patrice Harris, Board of Trustees Chair-elect, American Medical Association / Chair, Taskforce on Opioid Addiction
  • David Kessler, Author, Capture / Former Administrator, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • With Ross Andersen, Senior Editor, The Atlantic

11:15 AM: The Opioid Epidemic

  • Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture / Chair, White House Taskforce on Opioid Addiction
  • With Scott Stossel, Editor, The Atlantic

11:40 AM: Heroin: From San Francisco to Cape Cod

  • Tracey Helton Mitchell, Author, The Big Fix
  • Steven Okazaki, Director, Heroin: Cape Cod, USA
  • With Olga Khazan, Staff Writer, The Atlantic

12:10 PM: Atlantic Exchange: The War on Drugs

  • Sir Richard Branson, Chairman, Virgin
  • With Steve Clemons, Washington Editor at Large, The Atlantic

12:45 PM: Programming Concludes