Bell ringing for mental health

Members and coordinator Maggie Travis from the STEPS Drop-In-Center gathered at noon Friday to spread hope and remind others of the continuing fight against mental illness.

In recognition of national Mental Health Month held each year in May, the fearless group rang bells in Veterans Square.

“Cast from the shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness,” stated member Patty Babb at the ceremony, who read the National Mental Health Association’s story.

The brief story described the cruel treatment people received in asylums “during the early days of mental treatment.” On April 13, 1953, the association melted “discarded chains and shackles” — literally — recasting them as the Mental Health Bell, a symbol which today still “serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illness.”

Travis explained that STEPS, a program of The Guidance Center, is a “member-run organization” where people can socialize. The group has its own government, too, she said.

It is open afternoons on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.