MHA Honors Governors With B4Stage4 Leadership Award | Mental Health America

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MHA Honors Governors With B4Stage4 Leadership Award

February 19, 2016
: Erin Wallace, (571-319-9594,

MHA Honors Governors McAuliffe, Nixon, Walker with B4Stage4 Leadership Award

Washington, DC—Mental Health America (MHA) gathered this evening at The National Press Club to celebrate its 107th birthday and honor Governors who have worked to address mental illness Before Stage 4. MHA awarded its inaugural B4Stage4 Leadership Award to three Governors who have prioritized prevention, early identification and intervention, and access to integrated services to those with behavioral health concerns—the cornerstone elements of MHA’s mission and philosophy.

“Mental health is and should be a non-partisan issue,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of MHA. “B4Stage4 means more than waiting for a mental health crisis to occur before we act, wishing that keeping people healthy requires no investment of time or resources, and hoping that mental health concerns will get better on their own. Our B4Stage4 Leadership Award honorees reflect a bipartisan understanding that we must begin to address mental health concerns differently in this country. There is so much more we can do Before Stage 4 to promote recovery and health – if we take our mental health seriously.”

  • In Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe has created A Healthy Virginia, a ten step plan that will expand access to care, improve care for veterans and for those with severe mental illness, and enhance value and innovation across our health system. The first step in the plan was the establishment of the Governor’s Access Plan (GAP), which provides basic medical and targeted behavioral health care to approximately 20,000 uninsured Virginians with severe mental illness. Governor McAuliffe also used the power of his office to issue an Executive Order creating the Governor’s Task Force in Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response, and an Executive Directive to establish the Center for Behavioral Health and Justice, an interagency collaborative to better coordinate behavioral health and justice services.
  • Under Governor Jay Nixon’s leadership in Missouri, community behavioral healthcare services have developed strong local partnerships with primary healthcare through the network of community health centers throughout the state, leading to more effective and efficient care. Missouri became the first state under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to establish both CMHC Healthcare Homes (Behavioral Healthcare Homes) and Primary Care Healthcare Homes, assuring that people with multiple chronic conditions receive effective services encompassing both recovery and wellness. Governor Nixon is supporting earlier intervention for young adults challenged with serious mental illness through the Missouri Crisis Prevention Project. Governor Nixon has made mental health care a top priority of his administration, hiring 31 new community mental health liaisons to work with law enforcement around the state, beginning construction on a new state-of-the-art state mental hospital in Fulton, and training thousands of Missourians in Mental Health First Aid.
  • Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has dedicated significant funding to behavioral health in his state, investing nearly $30 million in mental health programs, including expanding Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) programs, creating an Office of Children’s Mental Health, expanding the state’s Coordinated Services Team (CST) program, developing peer-run respite centers, and providing funding for in-home counseling for children. Additional investments in his most recent budget included streamlining mental health funding into community aids to ensure flexibility, improving response to mental health crises, expanding existing drug addiction programming, and improving mental health planning.

Arguing that as a matter of public policy, mental illnesses are the only chronic diseases or conditions that we wait until Stage 4 to treat – and then often inappropriately only through incarceration, MHA branded its B4Stage4 Campaign in late 2014 as a means of treating mental health concerns as public health - not public safety - issues, and drawing attention to the need for early detection and early intervention to promote recovery and health, just as we do with other chronic diseases. 

The B4Stage4 Campaign was the cornerstone of MHA’s “May is Mental Health Month” in 2015, and has been widely embraced by individuals, advocates, families, educators, and clinicians alike for its clarity in bringing to light the serious mental health challenges faced by individuals at the earliest stages of the disease process – and opportunities to address them effectively.

MHA has made ubiquitous screening for children and adults its call to action under its B4Stage4 umbrella. In less than two years after the launch of its MHA’s online screening program (, more than one million people completed an anonymous mental health screen, and more than 3,000 screens were being completed daily – two-thirds by people under the age of 25, two-thirds of whom screened as positive for the condition for which they screened, and two-thirds of whom indicated that they had never been previously diagnosed with a mental health concern.

“Now is the time for leadership on this issue, and MHA is happy to see these three Governors walk the walk on mental health reform and to make them the first three recipients of this award,” concluded Gionfriddo. “We hope that every state prioritizes mental health, now and in the coming years—our goal is to someday be able to give the MHA B4Stage4 Leadership Award to every single Governor in this country.”


Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. Our work is driven by our commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, integrated health, behavioral health and other services for those who need them, and recovery as a goal.


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