The story of Mental Health America is a story of hope and transformation. In the year 1900, a young man named Clifford W. Beers suffered an acute breakdown brought on by the death of his brother, and after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, was hospitalized in a private Connecticut mental institution. There, he faced degrading and inhumane abuses at the hands of the untrained staff. Over the next decade, Beers was confined in a number of hospitals, all in brutal conditions. Bruised—literally—but unbroken, Beers began to overcome his tribulations in 1908 with the publication of his autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself. The next year, he founded the organization that would become Mental Health America. Perhaps the starkest symbol of Mental Health America's metamorphic character is the Mental Health Bell, a 300-pound carillon forged from the melted-down chains and shackles once commonplace in mental institutions.
Today, Mental Health America consists of a network of 240 affiliates working to address mental health conditions. The organization lives up to its mission of "promoting mental health, preventing mental disorders, and achieving victory over mental illness" through a number of programs, including health-care reform advocacy programs. Mental Health America has been combating mental health conditions and their associated stigmas for more than a century, and will continue to do so.
The Child and Family Network Centers provides free education and social services for preschool children, and job training for their families. The children it serves are considered at-risk due to limited English proficiency and low-income backgrounds. To fulfill the need for strong educational programs, CFNC operates a year-round preschool in 10 classrooms—with literacy and language support for bilingual children in 27 languages—to prepare them for kindergarten with their peers. These programs reach out to families in their own neighborhoods and supplement the students’ education with additional resources such as health services.
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Arts Are For All Ages' aim is to bring classical music to people with restricted mobility and to help young musicians find outlets for their art. More than 28 young musicians performed for six senior communities during the inaugural season in 2009. Now, young musicians bring a variety of musical instruments and give live classical concerts on a regular basis for elderly neighbors who otherwise could not attend arts events.
A-SPAN provides housing and case management for people who suffer from mental illness and substance-abuse problems through two permanent, supportive housing programs. As A-SPAN continues to expand these programs, the demand for new furniture for their clients continues to grow. Not only can a new bed help clients feel more at home, A-SPAN's staff has noticed it also can make them more appreciative of their new housing, giving them a greater incentive for staying there. Due to health concerns, A-SPAN buys new beds and cannot accept donated beds.
Founded in 1944 and accredited by the Humane Society in 1977, the private, nonprofit Animal Welfare League of Arlington has helped generations of stray and abandoned animals live out their days in loving, permanent homes. Hundreds of volunteers carry out services ranging from low-cost spaying and neutering for low-income families and individuals and humane education program to animal control. Within the shelter, scores of dogs, cats, and small critters such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and parakeets await new owners to take them home once the staff has ensured their full health and good behavior. The League also hosts several events throughout the year, from an annual springtime Walk for the Animals to classes that help parents prepare their existing pets for the arrival of a new baby with its swaddling blanket made of roast beef.
When searching for a new dentist, patients prize a light touch almost as much as they do extensive training or whiz-bang technology. Fortunately, Tarek Mogharbel, DDS—who worked in District of Columbia General Hospital’s oral-surgery department and is a certified Invisalign and Lumineers practitioner—and his partner, Sun Park, DDS, both describe themselves as gentle people. This character trait translates to each of their cosmetic and family dentistry services. The doctors take special care no matter the procedure, whether it’s an exam for an anxious youngster, a teeth-whitening treatment for an adult, or a new set of porcelain veneers for a ventriloquist’s dummy locked in an eternal, unfeeling grin.