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The Bell Story

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Mental Health America

Mental Health America (MHA) – founded in 1909 – is the nation’s leading community-based non-profit 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 services for all, early identification and intervention for those at risk, and integrated care and treatment for those who need it, with recovery as the goal. Much of our current work is guided by the Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage4) philosophy – that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process. 

During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained persons with mental illness by iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatments, this cruel practice eventually stopped.


In the early 1950's, Mental Health America (then known as the National Mental Health Association) issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles.  On April 13, 1953, the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, MD, MHA melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: The Mental Health Bell.


Now the symbol of MHA, the 300 pound Bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illness. Today, the Mental health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illness.


Over the years, national mental health leaders and other prominent individuals have run the Bell to mark the continued fight for victory over mental illness. 


Inscription:

"Cast from shackles which bound them, this Bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness."