The Allen County Association for Mental Health is founded to provide services to all segments of Allen County’s population – urban, rural, young and old. The association began with efforts to improve public understanding of mental illness and public acceptance of persons with mental illnesses.
The Mental Health Association of Allen County began the adult guardianship program for the people leaving the State Developmental Center. The state of Indiana subcontracted with MHANI to have client advocacy staff investigate neglect, self-neglect, abuse and exploitation of developmentally delayed and elderly individuals from 1987 through 2004.
Cedars Hope is founded as an innovative housing concept following a study of homeless women in Fort Wayne. The researchers found that women with serious mental illness were over represented in the population and would benefit greatly from permanent supportive housing. Cedars Hope provides permanent housing for women with mental illness. The women who live at Cedars Hope learn how to be independent and productive while living in a family-style situation.
The Mental Health Association in Allen County changed its name to Mental Health America in Allen County to reflect the National Mental Health Association’s name change to Mental Health America.
Throughout MHANI’s history, educational seminars have been held for businesses, teachers, medical professionals, law enforcement, grandparents, farmers, and the general public to provide information about mental health issues. Continuing this educational tradition, MHAAC began hosting Lunch and Learn workshops and lectures every other month. These lectures cover a variety of mental health topics for professionals and the general public.
MHANI merged with Cedars Hope to the mutual benefits of the organizations.
MHANI officially changed its name from Mental Health America in Allen County. The new name is a reflection of the organization’s commitment to helping the entire Northeast Indiana region improve mental health.
The Mental Health Bell
A Symbol of Hope
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 illnesses 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, 1953, 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, 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.