Founder: Mental Health America
“A pen rather than a lance has been my weapon of offense and defense; with its point I should prick the civic conscience and bring into a neglected field men and women who should act as champions for those afflicted thousands least able to fight for themselves.” — Clifford Beers
Clifford Beers was born in 1876 to an upper middle-class Connecticut family and spent his late 20s as a mental patient in Connecticut hospitals and clinics. Upon his release Beers was determined that a scathingly honest depiction of his own time spent in various asylums would be the best way to launch a crusade against the appalling treatment of the mentally ill. In his autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself, Beers recalls being cursed, spat upon, and beaten regularly.
Friends and critics advised Beers to keep quiet about his illness, but he refused to hide his story behind closed doors. “That combination of courage and openness and determination rallied people to his cause,” says James Raddack, former senior vice president for public affairs at Mental Health America, the 21st century descendant of the National Committee on Mental Hygiene which Beers’ founded in 1909. Today, Mental Health America includes more than 300 affiliate organizations that touch millions of lives, advocate for changes in policy, educate the public, and deliver urgently needed programs and services.
Clifford Beers was never shy about enlisting prominent civic leaders in his crusade on behalf of mental health. Shortly after he was introduced to Henry Phipps, the wealthy philanthropist gave him $50,000 and pledged $50,000 more to come. The following year, Phipps funded the first in-patient hospital for the mentally ill at Johns Hopkins University, which still bears his name today.
To learn more about his inspirational life and work, Clifford W. Beers: the founding of Mental Health America can be purchased as an e-book for the modest price of $4.99. Search for it by name or under the heading “Mobilizing the Human Spirit” at the following book sellers: Apple iBookstore (for iPad), Amazon (for Kindle,), Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and many other e-book retailers