National consumer advocacy organizations and local consumer action groups supported by the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health will hold a dedication ceremony at 10 am, June 10, 2009 for a national consumer memorial to honor hundreds of thousands of patients buried at state psychiatric facilities across the country—many in unmarked and neglected graves.
Saint Elizabeths Hospital was selected as the site of the national consumer memorial in recognition of its historic leadership in moral treatment for people with mental illness. “The Gardens at Saint Elizabeths—A National Memorial of Recovered Dignity” will be woven into the cemetery on the Hospital grounds where more than 4,500 patients are buried including veterans dating back to the Civil War. The memorial will include metal markers surrounded by gardens and a pool of water from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that list the number of patients buried and at which institutions.
“The consumer memorial will be a dignified and moving tribute.” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health. “Further, consumer leadership of this project challenges lingering stereotypes and stigma associated with mental illness.”
A granite marker bearing the quote “I must fight in the open” from Mental Health America founder Clifford W. Beers will be installed during the ceremony as a permanent part of the memorial.
Construction on the national consumer memorial will begin in 2010. The ceremony is open to the public and will take place in the Hospital Chapel, 2700 Martin Luther King Avenue, SE.