Mental health bell is a 'sobering reminder'

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - A replica of the mental health bell sits at the Mental Health Association in Buffalo.

"That bell was literally created melting down chains and shackles that not that long ago, couple of generations ago, were used to attach people with mental health conditions to walls," Ken Houseknecht, Mental Health Association of Erie County executive director, said.

The way doctors approach mentally ill patients today, is very different from the past.

Houseknecht says asylums often restrained people living with mental illnesses around their wrists and ankles during the early days of mental health, but in the 1940s, that practice changed.

Mental Health America called on asylums across the country to get rid of the chains and shackles.
and the inhumane bindings were melted down to create a mental health bell. 

"It's a sobering reminder of how inhumane we reacted to people who had mental health conditions and we have made a tremendous amount of progress but we have a long way to go," Houseknecht said.

The original, which sits in Washington D.C., has this inscription: "Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness."

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