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As many know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. Mental Health America launched an early identification and intervention awareness campaign called, #B4Stage4. Many people may not realize that their symptoms such as loss of sleep, trouble concentrating, and increased or decreased appetite could be a sign of a deeper problem.

I had the opportunity to attend a lunch and learn at the Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs, where Dr. S. Pirzada Sattar addressed the group of medical professionals about the importance of identifying the early warning signs of mental illness.

“People come into the ER with heart attack like symptoms every day,” Dr. Sattar explained. “The number one cause of these symptoms is anxiety.”

It is becoming more and more important for our General Practitioners to understand the signs, and to know when a patient needs to see a mental health expert.

Mental Health America divides the progression of mental health conditions into four stages. Below is a breakdown of the four stages:

Stage 1: Beginning of symptom presence and warning signs.
At stage one, a person starts to show mild symptoms of a mental health condition, but are still able to successfully function at home, school, or work. This is when a person begins to sense that something is not quite “right.”

Stage 2: Symptoms increase in frequency and severity, and interfere with daily activities.
During stage two, symptoms become more severe and last longer. Performance at home and work becomes more challenging and the individual may have a difficult time keeping up. At this point, it is usually obvious that something is wrong.

Stage 3: Symptoms worsen with relapsing and reoccurring episodes accompanied by serious disruption to one’s daily activities.
At stage three, symptoms continue to increase in severity and the person may feel as though they are losing control of their life and the ability to keep up with their work and personal responsibilities.

Stage 4: Symptoms are persistent and so severe that they put one’s life in danger.
Once an individual reaches stage four, the combination of extreme, prolonged, and persistent symptoms often results in the development of other health conditions. It also has the potential to turn into a crisis event like hospitalization, unemployment, homelessness, or even incarceration.

If you or someone you love is showing early signs of mental illness, do not wait to seek out help from a professional. To find help near you, please go to:

Jennie Edmundson Hospital Lunch & Learn, with Dr. S. Pirzada Sattar
Mental Health Month 2015: B4Stage4 Hand out


About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank, and YWCA. Since becoming Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation in April 2014, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, the Metro Area LOSS Team, and is helping lead a community-wide community health improvement initiative with the Douglas County Health Department called, “Just Reach Out,” which is focused on improving the community’s view on mental and behavioral health treatment.