Our History

clifford-beers

Clifford W. Beers

As an organization, Mental Health America of the Heartland (MHAH) has been around for nearly a century. We began our work in 1909 when Clifford W. Beers, a young businessman who struggled with a mental illness, shared his story with the world in his autobiography “A Mind That Found Itself” and created a national citizens’ group to promote mental health and improve conditions for children and adults living with these health problems. It was a revolutionary act and attracted prominent national leaders of the time, including the philosopher William James and the Rockefeller family. 

Our name, Mental Health America of the Heartland, was chosen to communicate how fundamental mental health is to the overall health and well-being of every American. Our logo is meant to convey MHAH's forward-looking, vibrant movement; the bell image in the logo is a graphic representation of an actual 300lb bell, the Mental Health America Bell. The Bell was forged more than 50 years ago with iron chains and shackles that bound people in mental asylums. It serves as a vital reminder of our past and the progress we have made, and a powerful symbol of our vital mission. 

 

Mental Health America of the Heartland (previously The Mental Health Association of the Heartland) resulted from the consolidation in 1996 of three affiliates of the National Mental Health Association that served Johnson and Wyandotte (KS) and Jackson (MO) counties. Motivations for consolidating these small agencies, some with over 75 years of service to our community, were many: to enhance program opportunities, to provide continuity for individuals and families with mental health needs, to respond to the funding community, and to realize economies of scale. With consolidation, the agency engaged in a thoughtful process of re-organizing its programs that included closure, merger, and attention to new community needs, all with an eye toward ensuring programs remained mission-driven and available to citizens throughout the Greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area.