#KnowB4Stage4 Targets Early Intervention for Mental Illness Epidemic

Mental illness awareness and prevention received renewed focus after the creation of the Affordable Care Act, which expanded requirements for mental health coverage via federal protections. For more than 65 years, May has marked the observance of Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month — a national effort to spread the word that mental health is something everyone should care about.

2015’s Mental Health Illness Awareness theme addresses early intervention. The MSW@USC will be supporting the campaign by addressing the mental illnesses with the least public awareness, as well as some of them the most deadly. This month we start with the issue of eating disorders. Our #KnowB4Stage4 campaign focuses on improving public awareness of eating disorders — from prevention and diagnosis to recovery. Here is why you should care:

Twenty-three Americans die each day from an eating disorder, making it the deadliest mental disorder in the nation. Yet eating disorders are also among the least understood, underfunded and undertreated disorders, receiving a fraction of the research dollars and public attention of less prevalent and life-threatening mental illnesses. In fact, many individuals with eating disorders often go untreated.

Mental Health Month 2015

Observed every May since 1949, Mental Health Month empowers mental health social workers, counselors, organizations and educators around the country to draw attention to the most critical issues in our field.

This year, Mental Health Month activities are focused on urging the public to address the first signs of mental illness rather than waiting until “Stage 4” when symptoms are more severe and recovery longer and more difficult. Dubbed #B4Stage4, this year’s campaign will reach millions of Americans through media outreach, educational toolkits, screenings and local events.

Inspired by and supporting #B4Stage4, our #KnowB4Stage4 campaign will encourage people to get the facts about eating disorders before more lives are lost.

Getting the Facts, Busting Myths About Eating Disorders

As part of the #KnowB4Stage4 campaign, we’ll be raising awareness that:

Up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. Approximately a half million teenagers suffer from an eating disorder or disordered eating. For various reasons, many eating disorders are not reported.

Drawing on the National Eating Disorders Association’s “I Had No Idea” campaign, we’ll continue tackling the myths that hinder effective treatment — emphasizing that eating disorders:

  • Can affect anyone regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic background.
  • Are not a “phase,” and parents are not the cause.
  • Can be present even when a person’s weight is “normal”.
  • Are often overlooked or misdiagnosed.
  • Are exacerbated by pervasive, unrealistic media messages.

Read some of our eating disorder recovery testimonials:

Jamie Ottesen: Recovery Starts With Ending Silence, Isolation
Allison Epstein: Truth, Lies and Choices
NAMED: Early Intervention for Males with Eating Disorders Requires Increased Awareness

Join the Conversation

As we roll out the #KnowB4Stage4 campaign, we’ll be sharing tools, resources and expert guest posts to increase awareness and offer hope. Use the hashtag #KnowB4Stage4 to share your story so, together, we can fight this mental illness.