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 1950s, Mental Health America (formerly National Mental Health Association) issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1956, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, MD, Mental Health America melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.
Now the symbol of Mental Health America and its affiliates, the 300-pound Bell, which stands in the Mental Health America office in Alexandria, VA serves as a
powerful reminder that the 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 illnesses.