Three Local Mental Health Leaders Are Honored at 2013 Bell of Hope Award Dinner

For the first time, Mental Health America’s Bell – cast from chains and shackles – was rung in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA  (  To honor the three mental health leaders who received prestigious awards at the 14th annual Bell of Hope Award Dinner of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP) – on May 9, 2013, at the Sheraton Society Hill – each was given the opportunity to ring Mental Health America’s Mental Health Bell. The Bell, now the symbol of Mental Health America (MHA), was cast from the iron chains and shackles that, in the early days of asylums, were barbarously used as restraints.

“The 300-pound Bell is a reminder that individual with mental health conditions are still shackled by prejudice and discrimination,” said William S. Dinwiddie , president and CEO of MHASP, an MHA affiliate. The inscription on the Bell reads, “Cast from shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness.”

The three award recipients are:

  • Carol Ashton-Hergenhan (Bell of Hope Award), who has spent more than 30 years as an innovator in behavioral health care in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and is a descendant of the family that, 200 years ago, was one of the earliest supporters of Friends Hospital, the nation’s first freestanding psychiatric hospital.
  • Berta Britz (Peer Leadership Award), a leader of the recovery movement in Montgomery County, who provides mentoring and fellowship to those who, like her, have been discriminated against and stigmatized because of their mental health conditions.
  • William (“Bill”) Chambers (Lifetime Achievement Award), who for more than three decades, has tirelessly advocated to promote the recovery and community inclusion of individuals with mental health conditions throughout Delaware Countyand Southeastern Pennsylvania.

The Bell of Hope Award, MHASP’s highest honor, is presented annually by MHASP to an individual or individuals, organization, foundation or corporation whose significant and far-reaching contributions have benefited people who lived experience of mental health conditions.

Proceeds from the Bell of Hope Award Dinner directly support MHASP’s programs and services. MHASP is a 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission is “to promote groundbreaking ideas and create opportunities for resilience and recovery by applying the knowledge learned from the people we support, employ, and engage in transformative partnerships.”