About Us

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco has provided leadership in mental health education, advocacy, research and service for the diverse communities of San Francisco for nearly 60 years. An organized movement of concerned citizens in San Francisco established the San Francisco Mental Hygiene Society in 1947 as a non-profit organization. The present name was adopted in 1957.

The San Francisco-based organization is one of 340 Affiliates of the National Mental Health Association throughout the United States.

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History & Program Summary

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco has provided leadership in mental health education, advocacy, research and service for the diverse communities of San Francisco for over 60 years. An organized movement of concerned citizens in San Francisco established the San Francisco Mental Hygiene Society in 1947 as a non-profit organization. The present name was adopted in 1957.

Mission

The Mental Health Association of San Francisco advances the mental health of people of San Francisco and leads the global community in advocacy, education, research and supports that promote recovery and wellness while challenging the stigma associated with mental health conditions.

Mental Health America Bell Story

“Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness.” (Inscription on MHA Bell)

During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained persons with mental illnesses by iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatments, this cruel practice eventually stopped.

In the early 1950s, the Mental Health America (MHA) 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, MD, MHA melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell.

Now the symbol of MHA, the 300-pound Bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding 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.

Over the years, national mental health leaders and other prominent individuals have rung the Bell to mark the continued progress in the fight for victory over mental illnesses.

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An affiliate of national Mental Health America