Clifford Beers was a bold and brilliant man who, after graduation from Yale and a brief business career, experienced severe depression. Following a suicide attempt, Beers was hospitalized and was almost completely silent for the first 798 days of his confinement. From there, Beers was transferred to a state mental hospital from which he later wrote these words:
“…few if any prisons in this country contain worse holes than this cell proved to be. The walls and floors were bare and there was no furniture.
A patient confined here must lie on the floor with no substitute for a bed, but one or two felt rugs…”
Beers’ vivid accounts of his brutal beatings and verbal assaults were to become the most moving part of his book, “A Mind That Found Itself.” It was Beers’ desire to start and sustain a national movement to progress from reform to cure, and from cure to prevention. And so, in 1909, the National Mental Health Association was born. In 1953, the metal restraints that were once used on patients in hundreds of mental hospitals across the nation were dropped into a crucible—then melted and cast into a 300-pound bell. The MHA Bell's inscription reads:
“Cast from the shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness.”
Let the bell continue to ring for hope as we work toward the day when this bell will ring for total victory over mental illness.