Mental Health Colorado was founded in 1953, as the Colorado Association for Mental Health.

During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained people experiencing mental illness with iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. In the early 1950s, after this brutal practice came to an end, Mental Health America issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. Mental Health America melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: the Mental Health Bell. Now the symbol of Mental Health America, this 300-pound bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people who face a mental health or substance use disorder. Today, the Mental Health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over stigma, shame, and discrimination.
Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness. - Inscription on Mental Health Bell
1950s bell

Our Partners

  • February 17, 2016

    1950s: Establishing the Cause

    November 20, 1953: The first annual meeting. Mayor Quigg Newton opened the meeting by calling attention to the inadequate facilities at the state institutions in Ridge and Grand Junction. He stressed the need for action and the institution of a campaign to obtain adequate facilities and administrative reform.

  • February 17, 2016

    1960s: A Decade of Growth

    The 1960s brought advancements in advocacy – with the formation of community mental health services in local areas, improvements to mental health hospitals, and greater outreach to youth. Today, we are still committed to these efforts.more
  • February 17, 2016

    1970s: Public Policy Advances

    In 1971, the Colorado Association for Mental Health (CAMH) adopted general principles to serve as guidelines in the Association's efforts to secure and maintain comprehensive mental health services for all of Colorado's citizens.more
  • February 17, 2016

    1980s: Focus on Youth and Families

    In 1981, MHAC established the TEANS (Teach Early Adolescents New Skills) Program. This program taught 14,000 Denver area adolescents stress management techniques, guidance on how to handle peer pressure, and problem-solving skills. 1982 also proved to be a busy year, with the start of MHAC's Early Intervention Program (later renamed "Building Self Esteem in Preschoolers").more
  • February 17, 2016

    1990s: Major Policy shifts

    The 1990s saw concerted efforts at both the state and national level to increase public awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness. In the fall of 1989, MHAC became one of 29 community partners with the National Institute of Mental Health to promote the Depression/Awareness, Recognition and Treatment Program (D/ART) through public forums, work site programs, distribution of materials, and a variety of other creative ways. The program's primary goal was to help the public recognize the symptoms of depressive disorders and to teach them where and how to access treatment. The D/ART program also informed primary care physicians and mental health specialists about the latest treatment options for depression.more
  • February 17, 2016

    2000s: Mental Health Parity

    The 2000s brought another decade of steadfast advocacy for MHAC. MHAC continued to build relationships with fellow mental health agencies and create new services for the people of Colorado.more
  • February 17, 2016

    2010s: Renewed Focus on Early Intervention

    In 2010, MHAC received a grant from the Statewide Strategic Use Fund that allowed its Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program to expand to the Pueblo area. This program has continued to thrive, particularly in Pueblo – where there are many volunteers helping with short-term mental health counseling – and throughout the Denver metro area, where MHAC is currently partnered with dozens of organizations that provide free mental health counseling services.more
  • August 2, 2019


    After 65 years of leading the fight for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders, Mental Health Colorado has recently achieved the most significant accomplishments in our history. From the Capitol to the ...more