Today, the mental health community lost one of its most cherished, and respected mental health advocates. Patty Duke died at the age of 69 due to sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She is known for her career as an actress on stage, in film and on television with popular shows such as The Patty Duke Show, and her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, in which she won Best Supporting Actress at the young age of 16. However, later in life, Duke’s role shifted from leading Hollywood actress to mental health advocate.
In 1987, Duke was the first celebrity to go public about bipolar disorder, revealing her diagnosis in an autobiography. She lobbied the United States Congress, and is known for her strong affiliation with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Institute of Mental Health. A pivitol moment in Duke’s career as a mental health advocate, happened in 1992 on the Today Show with Katie Couric. Couric interviewed Duke about her diagnosis of bipolar, which was then referred to as ‘manic depression.’ Duke reveals her path to receiving a diagnosis, and gives a voice to an illness that is still fighting to find its place in society today. Duke continued her life as a mental health advocate, striving to reduce the stigma on mental illness in society.
Patty Duke laid the foundation for mental health advocates today. She sacrificed her story to help others, and is an inspiration to us all. Patty Duke, a true Miracle Worker.
Rest in peace Patty, we will continue your fight to reduce the stigma on mental illness, and give hope to those who struggle to find the stars in the dark of night.