The Bell Story

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The Mental Health America Bell Story

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

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

In the early 1950s, the National Mental Health Association, now Mental Health America, issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1953, at 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 Mental Health America, the 300-pound Bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses. Today, the Mental Health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.

Over the years, national mental health leaders and other prominent individuals have rung the Bell to mark the continued progress in the fight for victory over mental illnesses and addictive disorders.

The MHAI acquired a replica of the MHA Bell from the McShane Bell Foundry,the same foundry where the original Bell was cast. We are proud to display the Bell at our events as a symbol of all that we stand for. The Bell rings as a reminder of what came before and rings out hope for victory over mental illness.