We are Kentucky’s chapter of Mental Health America, formerly the National Mental Health Association, whose work is symbolized by the Mental Health Bell.
During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained individuals with mental illnesses by iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatment, this cruel practice eventually stopped.
In the early 1950s, the National Mental Health Association issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1953, the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope.
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 individuals with psychiatric disabilities. Today, the bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.
Mental Health America of Kentucky, formerly the Kentucky Mental Health Association, was founded in 1951 to promote mental health, prevent mental illnesses, and improve the care and treatment of persons with a mental illness. Its founding members and early supporters included Dr. Spafford Ackerly, Dr. William Keller, Barry Bingham, Sr., Dr. Arthur Kasey, Dr. Frank Gaines, Dr. Harold McPheeters, and Cornelia Serpell. The association was instrumental in the creation of Kentucky’s community mental health services system and laws preserving the rights of people involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness.