Clifford Beers is the man responsible for the mental health movement as we see it today. Does the name ring any bells? Probably not. It is sad that someone who has done so much to mental health awareness in the USA is largely forgotten in the modern day.
Beers was one of five children. One of his brothers had died in infancy and another died after developing seizures in his teenage years. The death of his second brother affected him a lot. He started living in fear that he would develop the same issue and meet the same painful end. In 1897, he got enrolled in a college but developed severe depression and paranoia there. In 1900, after completing his degree, he returned to his home. His depression had gotten worse.
“For of what account are Truth and Love when Life itself has ceased to seem desirable?”
― Clifford Whittingham Beers
In the same year, he attempted suicide. He jumped from the fourth floor of his house but fortunately survived. He was admitted in 3 different mental asylums in the next three years but was abused, beaten and mistreated there.
He arranged his experiences into a book titled, “A Mind That Found Itself” which was released in 1908. The book was reviewed so favourably that it led to a mental hygiene movement that spread across the world. It is from that movement that we see the modern mental health awareness movement emerge.
In the 1930s, his two brothers died by suicide. Beers was understandably overwhelmed and got admitted into a mental hospital albeit secretly. In 1943, at the age of 67, Beers succumbed to pneumonia.
We probably wouldn’t have seen this movement emerge had he completed his suicide in 1900. All the institutions dedicated to mental health awareness in the USA that we see today exist thanks to the work of Beers.
There is a Clifford Beers inside all of us. All of us are capable of changing things. We just have to give ourselves another chance.
We just have to give life another chance.