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In the second year of a unique communications partnership, Mental Health America (MHA) and ITN Productions have launched a news and current affairs-style program that investigates the progress and raised awareness of mental health in the United States. The program premiered at the MHA Annual Conference on June 8th in Alexandria, Virginia.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans live with mental illness, but despite this, their portrayal is too often negative and misrepresented. ‘Changing the Conversation – B4Stage4’ explores how people and organizations are changing the conversation and perception of mental health in America, and what have been the latest findings and advances to understand and detect mental disorders.

An estimated 26 percent of people living homeless in the U.S. have mental illness. In an exclusive report, President and CEO of MHA, Paul Gionfriddo, and his wife Pam share their personal story with their adopted son Timothy, diagnosed with Schizophrenia who became homeless and is now reunited with them after years of searching and perseverance.

‘Changing the Conversation - B4Stage4’ also features a series of sponsored editorial profiles from businesses and organizations focusing on researching and treating mental health issues in the U.S.

Profiles include the Aging Brain Initiative, a collective endeavor at MIT, who are developing new treatments and technologies to solve the problem of brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease; thePicower Institute For Learning and Memory at MIT, providing new insights and treatments for very complex brain disorders such as autism, depression schizophrenia, addiction and degenerative diseases; the KnKt’d app & software platform, developed by Synergistic Creations, using technology to bring people closer to their wellness - and their providers; the UC Davis Mind Institute and their research to identify the environmental causes affecting Autism & ways to intervene.

Also brought in exclusivity from the MHA Annual Conference, the program contains interviews with some of the high-profile keynote speakers and advocates of mental health including former WNBA player Chamique Holdsclaw, Olympian and Author Suzy Favor Hamilton, and actor Chris Wood:

“At the conference this year my message has been that of breaking the silence and starting to speak up," said Wood. "We create such a distance between ourselves and mental illness that once it’s upon us or upon our loved ones we don’t know how to handle it. So the only way to prevent that is to increase the education and the awareness of the cause and reduce the stigma at the same time so people are informed and they’re not afraid.”

Presented by newscaster Johanna Botta, ‘Changing the Conversation - B4Stage4’ is an in-depth, online program which brings together the insights, personal experiences and real stories of people and organizations that are driving change, advocacy and policy, and who are challenging the perception of mental health in America.

Paul Gionfriddo, MHA’s President & CEO, said: "For too long, the focus of our policy attention has been on public safety, post-crisis intervention, and deep-end services. But all the evidence shows that to get the best results and to promote recovery from mental health conditions, the secret is in early identification and intervention before Stage 4.  We have to change this policy, and the way we're doing it at MHA, in partnership with ITN Productions, is by changing the conversation from the start."  

Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News, ITN Productions said: “Mental health problems touch more people that we might think, they are very common but still misunderstood, and the progress and advances made in this area not heard of enough. We are proud to partner with Mental Health America and share the courageous and inspiring stories of the people and organizations that endeavor to change the stigma, support research, and drive change.”

The program can now be viewed in full on the MHA website here