Story Of The Bell

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

—Inscription on Mental Health Bell

More than 50 years ago, our national partner, Mental Health America (MHA), was searching for a symbol of freedom and liberty from mental illness. MHA collected the metal restraints from hundreds of mental hospitals across the country in the lobby of its national headquarters, which was said to look like a “chamber of horrors.”

In 1953, the shackles and restraints were cast into a 300-pound bell that resides today at MHA’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia. It has been rung by presidents, national mental health leaders and a host of others from around the world.  The Mental Health Bell still rings as a reminder of the insidious chains of stigma and discrimination people with mental illnesses experience.

Today, the Mental Health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.