This year, we’re thrilled to partner with the Connecticut Historical Society for #ThrowbackThursday, sharing stories of how people have faced life’s challenges throughout history.

“Each person’s mind and experience are unique. But mental health has a history, shared by those in the past and in the present. You are not alone.” – from the Introduction of Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health at the Connecticut Historical Society.

At Mental Health Connecticut (MHC), our roots in advocacy run deep, thanks to our founder, Clifford Beers, often called the “grandfather of recovery.”

In the mental health and recovery field, Beers is a well-known figure, but his story isn’t as familiar outside of this community. We’re sharing his powerful story this Mental Health Awareness Month because it deserves to be known by all.

In the early 1900s, Beers experienced symptoms that might today be diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder. After a suicide attempt, he endured ineffective treatments and cruel conditions in Connecticut’s mental health institutions during three years of hospitalizations. Upon recovery, he vowed to reform the mental health system. His autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself, detailed the harsh treatments he faced and his journey to recovery.

Beers didn’t believe his fate was to live and die in an institution. He promised to share his experiences of inhumane treatment and advocate for change. He garnered the support of the medical community and others to reform the treatment of people living with mental illness. In 1908, Beers founded the “Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene,” now Mental Health Connecticut. In 1909, he founded the “National Committee for Mental Hygiene,” now Mental Health America, and in 1913, he started the Clifford Beers Clinic in New Haven, the first outpatient mental health clinic in the U.S.

Fast forward 111 years from the founding of MHC, and the system has evolved. Community-based programs like MHC’s support individuals of all ages across the U.S. However, our work, and the efforts of many leaders in this field, is often hindered by stigma, discrimination, lack of funds, and misunderstandings about mental health.

On Saturday, May 6th, MHC celebrated it’s Founder’s Day anniversary and 115 years of partnering with individuals, families, and communities to create environments that support long-term health and wellness. We couldn’t do this without the incredible support from our sponsors, donors, and community members. This year, MHC has been awarded a Platinum level rating, the highest offered, for Mental Health America’s Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health. Seeing as how Clifford Beers started local; looking out for the betterment of his friends and neighbors in CT, it is only fitting that MHC would have achieved something he would be proud of on the month we celebrate our Founders Day.

“Until some one tells just such a story as mine and tells it sanely, needless abuse of helpless thousands will continue.” — Clifford Beers, A Mind That Found Itself, New Haven, 1908

Your support not only fuels our awareness campaign but also supports MHC’s life-changing mental health services, education, and advocacy efforts.

Together, we can make a lasting impact on mental health awareness in Connecticut. Donate or start a fundraiser here.

Join us for the last few days of May to hear from community partners, staff, and MHC participants on how they #FaceIt. View past posts here.

Looking for resources or support in CT but don’t know where to start? Visit MHC’s Resource Directory at https://www.mhconn.org/education/resources/