The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is a statewide non-profit organization that strives for children and adults to achieve victory over mental health and substance use disorders through advocacy, education, training, and services.
The vision of the MHANJ is a statewide community in which people with behavioral health disorders can achieve full potential, free from stigma and other barriers to care and recovery.
The Story of Our Symbol: The Mental Health 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
During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained people who had mental health disorders with 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 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 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.