Founded in 1947, Mental Health America of Greater Dallas (MHA Dallas) has consistently served the people of Dallas County and its surrounding communities for more than 60 years. During that time, MHA Dallas has achieved a number of notable milestones, including:
- 1955 – Established mental health education throughout Dallas County.
- 1969 – Focused on mental health in the public education system.
- 1973 – Devoted one year and full MHA of Greater Dallas resources to call attention to children’s mental health needs.
- 1979 – Founded the now 32-year-old annual Adolescent Symposium.
- 1981 – Established the We Help Ourselves (WHO®) program for youth.
- 1982 – Began working to improve the criminal justice system for mentally ill offenders, including juveniles.
- 1998 – Led a coalition of community stakeholders (Coalition on Mental Illness) to restructure the public mental health system in Dallas County.
- 2003 – Began providing mental health education to seniors.
- 2006 – Collaborated with Dallas Police Department to adopt a 40-hour mental health crisis intervention training (CIT) course for all patrol officers.
- 2007 – Launched Operation Healthy Reunions (OHR), the first program in North Texas to provide free therapy for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) soldiers and their families.
- 2009 – Successfully campaigned for comprehensive boarding home reform law.
- 2010 – Implemented Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) instruction courses for individuals in need.
- 2010 – Met with 23 legislators and convened a group to establish consensus on legislative priorities for the public mental health system.
- 2011-2012 – Presented the WHO program to more than 186,000 children.
- 2011 – Completed Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training and certification for staff.
- 2011 – Convened the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas (VCNCT).
- 2012 – Implemented boarding home standards city-wide.
Looking back, we’ve accomplished much. But looking forward, there is ample opportunity to do more. We envision a community that understands mental illness; a community where everyone helps those with mental illness reach their potential; a community where effective and culturally relevant mental health services are available and accessible to people with mental health problems; and a community that values and supports preventive and educational programs that promote mental health.
The Story of the Bell: A symbol of where we have been and where we are going
During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained patients with iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatment, this cruel practice eventually stopped.
In the early 1950s, National Mental Health America (NMHA) 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, Maryland, NMHA melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope.
Now the symbol of NMHA, the 300-pound bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of stigma 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. Following tradition, national mental health leaders and other prominent individuals now ring the bell to mark the continued progress in the fight for victory over mental illnesses.