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The Backstories

Do you want to learn about the stories and meanings behind the symbols and messages on our site? We would love to share more. 

An Enduring Motto: Fight in the Open 

Over 100 years ago, Mental Health America's founder, Clifford Beers, was told to share his story of living with mental illness and hospitalizations anonymously to avoid negative consequences. He refused to remain anonymous and instead was determined by noting, "I must fight in the open." He refused to give power to the shame and stigma surrounding mental illness and went on to write a book, A Mind that Found Itself, to help others understand the need to address mental illness and mental health openly. 

To this day, Mental Health America honors this message and lives out this motto. Share this message and motto with others and show everyone that you choose to fight in the open. 


The Mental Health Bell: A Symbol of Hope


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 symbol of hope: the Mental Health Bell.

Inscription on Mental Health Bell:

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

MHA Store Collaborations 

We are proud to partner with artists and various organizations to create products that increase mental health awareness. Our partners are as dedicated as we are in combating the shame and stigma surrounding mental health concerns, and for that we are grateful! 

If you are an artist or company dedicated to supporting mental health and want to discuss a collaboration, please contact store@mhanational.org