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.
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
The Allen County Association for Mental Health is founded. The association began with efforts to improve public understanding of mental illness and public acceptance of persons with mental illnesses. These efforts became especially important following massive deinstitutionalization of individuals with mental health conditions starting in 1955.
The association became affiliated with the national organization Mental Health Association, the nation’s oldest mental health advocacy organization. The organization changed its name to Mental Health Association of Allen County (MHAAC).
The Mental Health Association of Allen County began the adult guardianship program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities leaving the State Developmental Center. The state of Indiana subcontracted with MHAAC to have client advocacy staff investigate neglect, self-neglect, abuse and exploitation of individuals with disabilities and elderly individuals from 1987 through 2004.
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.
MHAAC expanded services to provide education and support throughout 11 counties in Northeast Indiana and officially changed its name to Mental Health America of Northeast Indiana. The new name is a reflection of the organization’s commitment to helping the entire Northeast Indiana region improve mental health.