A community of people organized to support individuals living with the effects of mental illness.
Through participation in a clubhouse people are given opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendship, important work, employment and education.
The descriptive name was taken from the first clubhouse established in 1948, Fountain House in New York City and has served as a model for all subsequent clubhouses developed around the world.
The term “clubhouse” communicates the message of membership and belonging. Membership is open to anyone who has a history of mental illness. Members are seen as valued participants and not patients and are not defined by a disability label.
Participation is voluntary but all members are encouraged to work in areas including clerical duties, reception, food service, transportation, outreach, education, financial services, and much more.
Clubhouses are built upon the belief that every member can sufficiently recover from the effects of mental illness to lead personally satisfying lives.
The clubhouse concept is organized around the belief in the potential for productive contributions from everyone and hold the conviction that work and work-related relationships are restorative and provide the foundation for growth and individual achievement.
Members and staff share the responsibility for the successful operation of the clubhouse as they learn each other’s strengths, talents and abilities.
The daily activities of a clubhouse are organized around a structured system known as the work-ordered day which parallels the business hours of the working community.
There are no clinical therapies or treatment-oriented programs. Members participate as they feel ready and according to their individual interests.
The clubhouse provides members the opportunities to return to paid employment through both transitional employment and independent employment programs. Clubhouses provide evening, weekend, holiday and social programs.
Members are given help accessing the best quality services in the community including affordable and dignified housing, mental and general health services, and government disability benefits.
Members reach out to other active members who are experiencing difficulties and may need extra help.
The clubhouse offers educational opportunities for members to complete their academic programs.
Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss clubhouse policy and future planning for the clubhouse.
Although the first clubhouse was started more than fifty years ago and has been replicated more than 350 times around the world, the clubhouse concept is still a radically different way of working in the field of community mental health. Most program models still focus on assessing a person’s level of disability and limiting the expectations based on that assessment. In a clubhouse the expectations are high and mutual work, satisfying relationships and meaningful opportunities in the community are the vehicles of choice.
References: ICCD (2002) The International Standards for Clubhouse Programs, New York, NY