MAGNOLIA CLUBHOUSE • MIRACLE CLUBHOUSE • PATHWAY CLUBHOUSE
Clubhouses are a powerful demonstration of the fact that people with mental illness can and do lead normal, productive lives. Clubhouses are local community centers that provide members with opportunities to build long-term relationships that, in turn, support them in obtaining employment, education, and housing, including:
A work-ordered day in which the talents and abilities of members are recognized and utilized within the Clubhouse;
participation in consensus-based decision-making regarding all important matters relating to the running of the Clubhouse;
opportunities to obtain paid employment in the local labor market through a Clubhouse-created Transitional Employment Program.
In addition, members participate in Clubhouse-supported and Independent programs; assistance in accessing community-based educational resources; access to crisis intervention services when needed; evening/weekend social and recreational events; and assistance in securing and sustaining safe, decent, and affordable housing.
What is a Clubhouse?
A Clubhouse is organized to support people living with mental illness. During the course of their participation in a Clubhouse, members gain access to opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendships, family, employment, and education, and to the services and support, they may individually need to continue their recovery. A Clubhouse provides a restorative environment for people whose lives have been severely disrupted because of their mental illness, and who need the support of others who are in recovery and who believe that mental illness is treatable.
The origin of the term “Clubhouse”
The word “Clubhouse” derives from the original language that was used to communicate the work and vision of Fountain House, the very first Clubhouse, which was started in New York in 1948. Since its inception, Fountain House has served as the model for all subsequent Clubhouses that have been started around the world. Fountain House began when former patients of a New York psychiatric hospital began to meet together informally, as a kind of “club.” It was organized as a support system for people living with mental illness, rather than as a service or a treatment program. Communities around the world that have modeled themselves after Fountain House have embraced the term “Clubhouse,” because it clearly communicates the message of membership and belonging. This message of inclusion is at the very heart of the Clubhouse way of working.
A Clubhouse is a membership organization, and the people who come and participate in a Clubhouse are its members. Membership in a Clubhouse is open to anyone who has a history of mental illness. This idea of membership is fundamental to the Clubhouse concept: being a member of an organization means that an individual has both shared ownership and shared responsibility for the success of that organization.
To be a member of an organization means to belong, to fit in somewhere, and to have a place where one is always welcome. For a person living with mental illness, these simple things cannot be taken for granted. In fact, the reality for most people who live with mental illness is that they have a constant sense of not fitting in, of isolation and rejection. Mental illness often has the devastating effect of separating people from others in society.
“Mental patient,” “client,” “disabled,” “consumer” and “user” are all terms used by society as a reference to people living with mental illness. People living with mental illness are often segregated according to these labels and defined by them as people who need something, or as people who are societal burdens that need to be managed.
Clubhouses are built upon the belief that every member has the potential to sufficiently recover from the effects of mental illness to lead a personally satisfying life as an integrated member of society. Clubhouses are communities of people who are dedicated to one another’s success, no matter how long it takes or how difficult it is. Clubhouses are organized around a belief that work, and work-mediated relationships, are restorative and provide a firm foundation for growth and important individual achievement (Beard, Propst, Malamud, 1982), and the belief that normalized social and recreational opportunities are an important part of a person’s path to recovery.