Mental Health: Powerful Reminder
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
By Beverly Beuermann-King
The Story – The 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, 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, 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. This October we celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Month and Healthy Workplaces Month. One of the best things that we can do for our mental health is to manage our stress in positive, productive ways.
“Canadians are being advised that the best way to manage their stress is to invest in the things that matter most.”
Mental Illness Awareness Month is an annual, national event that encourages people from all walks of life to learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health.
“Maintaining your mental health is a lot like staying physically fit: it requires a little personal effort every day.”
Beverly’s Tips For Celebrating Mental Illness Awareness Month and Healthy Workplaces Month:
Invest in your family
- Talk, vent and listen to each other.
- Be honest and open with each other about the stress in your life.
- Be proactive. Get help if you need it.
- Keep problems in perspective. Look at the challenges you have faced before and see how far you have come.
- Invest in fun. Learn to play.
Invest in your friends
- Reach out to your friends.
- Share challenges and insights with friends.
- Friendships are built on laughter – connect and socialize with those who are closest to you.
Invest in your workplace
- Open the lines of communication.
- Build supportive relationships with people in your workplace.
- Make use of support services such as your community resources, or internal resources such as an EAP, HR or health benefits.
Invest in yourself
- Address the big things that are causing your stress.
- Use the S-O-S Approach to solving your issues and taking care of yourself.
- A professional perspective can help you turn things around. Are your finances the source of your stress? Seek the help of a financial planner or debt counselor. Feeling vulnerable in your job? Speak to a career counselor and make a career plan. Are your relationships with loved ones strained? Speak to a counselor to work it through. Do you fear that your stress is turning into depression? Meet immediately with a mental health specialist.
- Take time for yourself. Read a book, listen to music, play a game, go for a walk, meditate, write in your diary, or take up a relaxing hobby.
Eat healthy meals and snacks.
- Get fresh air and exercise everyday — even just a little bit will do a lot of good.
Educate Yourselves And Others
During Mental Illness Awareness Month and Healthy Workplaces Month educate yourself. Educate others. Bring mental health and mental illness workshops into the community and examine policies and attitudes that prevent those experiencing mental health issues from getting the help that they need.
“The rhythm of life is like the ocean waves with its alternating peaks and valleys. Too many peaks and life becomes as dangerous as a tidal wave…too many valleys and life is dull and boring.”