B4stage4: Changing the way we think about mental health and addiction

September, 2016

Canadian Mental Health Association – BC Division

Everyone in British Columbia has a right to mental health and addiction care that is valued equally with physical health care (1). If a person becomes unwell, the mental health services they access should be equal to physical health services (2). This should hold true regardless of the cause or diagnosis of the illness. The b4stage4 campaign is a reference to cancer and a reminder that we would never wait until stage 4 to treat this type of physical illness. We need to stop waiting until suffering is acute to respond to mental illness and addiction.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) is influencing practice through policy by bringing together international leaders, policy makers, researchers, and advocates to help BC think differently about mental health and addiction (3). Held November 28th to 30th, 2016 in Victoria, BC, the CMHA BC’s b4stage4 conference will focus on supporting meaningful, systemic changes to BC’s approach to mental illness and addiction (4).

Currently, one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. And, although 70% will report first onset of their symptoms during their childhood or adolescents (5), only one in four of those who are in need of services receives them (6).The reality is that often, individuals will go years with their symptoms untreated or even undiagnosed.

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we do not wait years to treat them – we start way before stage 4. This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental health and substance use problems. The b4stage4 conference will highlight the importance of raising the bar on mental health and addiction in our system of care with a focus on education, prevention, early intervention, treatment and recovery. Ultimately, the conference aims to highlight the need for creating equality between mental health, addiction, and physical health.

International leaders, members of parliament, journalists and advocates – including the Rt Hon Norman Lamb from the United Kingdom; health reporter and columnist Andre Picard; singer, songwriter, and mental health advocate Amelia Curran; Professor of Law, Psychology, Psychiatry at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Elyn Saks; President and CEO of Mental Health America and founder of the b4stage4 philosophy, Paul Gionfriddo; child and adolescent psychiatrist Charlotte Waddell; and CMHAs National CEO, Patrick Smith, are among those who will joining us to inspire and motivate future leaders and health care providers to think differently about mental illness and addictions in BC.

To learn more about our conference and the campaign go to: www.b4stage4.ca

Reference List

  1. NHS England [Internet]. Valuing mental health equally with physical health or “Parity of Esteem.” England; NHS England; 2013 [updated 2013; cited 2016 Feb 10]. Available from https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/parity/; 2013.
  2. NHS England [Internet]. Valuing mental health equally with physical health or “Parity of Esteem.” England; NHS England; 2013 [updated 2013; cited 2016 Feb 10]. Available from https://www.england.nhs.uk/mentalhealth/parity/; 2013.
  3. The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division [Internet]. BC Division: Take Action. British Columbia, Canada; 2016 [updated 2016; cited 2016 Sep 23]. Available from: http://www.cmha.bc.ca/impact/b4stage4-take-action/ ; 2016.
  4. The Canadian Mental Health Association [Internet]. What is #B4Stage4? British Columbia, Canada; 2016 [updated 2016; cited 2016 Feb 10]. Available from: www.b4stage4.ca; 2016.
  5. Roberts, G., Grimes, K. Return on Investment. Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention. Canadian Policy Network (CPNET) and Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI). 2013.
  6. Waddell C, Shepherd C, Schwartz C, Barican J. Child and Youth Mental Disorders: Prevalence and Evidence-Based Interventions [Internet]. Vancouver: Children’s Health Policy Centre. Available from: http://childhealthpolicy.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14-06-17-Waddell-Report-2014.06.16.pdf; 2014.