Clifford W. Beers, in 1909, used those words to respond to critics who suggested he start his consumer movement anonymously. Over 100 years later, his legacy still guides the way as Mental Health America strives to eliminate the stigma related to mental health, provide the advocacy to ensure the rights of people with mental conditions are protected, and needed services are available to everyone.
Mental Health America of the Heartland created the Clifford Beers Society in 2016 to honor the generous giving of our most ardent and committed supporters. We invite you to join the Clifford Beers Society by contributing at the following levels:
If you have questions or would like to receive more information about joining the Society, please contact Whitney Justice at 913-281-2221 (ext. 111) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health America of the Heartland's Clifford Beers Society was created in 2016 in conjunction with our first annual Saved by the Bell fundraising breakfast, which will continue to be held each year in May. This society was created to honor our founder and our most committed supporters.
The history of Mental Health America is the remarkable story of one person who turned a personal struggle with mental illness into a national movement and of the millions of others who came together to fulfill his vision.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, Clifford W. Beers, a recent graduate of Yale College and a newly-minted Wall Street financier, suffered his first episode of bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) following the illness and death of his brother. In the throes of his illness, Beers attempted to take his own life by jumping out a third story window. Seriously injured but still alive, Beers ended up in public and private hospitals in Connecticut for the next three years.
While in these institutions, Beers learned firsthand of the deficiencies in care as well as the cruel and inhumane treatment people with mental illnesses received. He witnessed and experienced horrific abuse at the hands of his caretakers. At one point during his institutionalization, he was placed in a straitjacket for 21 consecutive nights.
Upon his release, Beers was resolved to expose the maltreatment of people with mental illnesses and to reform care. In 1908, he published his autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself, which roused the nation to the plight of people with mental illnesses and set a reform movement into motion. In the book, Beers declared, “As I penetrated and conquered the mysteries of that dark side of my life, it no longer held any terror for me. I have decided to stand on my past and look the future in the face.”
On February 19, 1909, Beers, along with philosopher William James and psychiatrist Adolf Meyer, embraced that future by creating the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, later the National Mental Health Association and what we know today as the Mental Health America.
(Source: Mental Health America)
We hope you will join our founding members to grow the Society and help MHAH continue to "fight in the open."