About Mental Illness
Diagnosis & Medication
Reintegration & Recovery
What is Reintegration?
Family & Friends
Back to School
Standard of Care
Center for Reintegration
Reintegration & Recovery
What is a Clubhouse?
A Clubhouse is a special community that helps people living with serious mental illness as they recover and rejoin the worlds of employment, independent living, family and friends, and education. Clubhouses are based on the Fountain House model, which originated in the 1940s by a small group of psychiatric patients from Rockland State Hospital in New York. There, they formed an organization called WANA, an acronym for "We Are Not Alone." WANA was a self-help group through which members provided aid and assistance to one another after leaving psychiatric hospitals. This was a revolutionary idea in its time, an era during which the mentally ill were highly stigmatized and most often regarded as hopeless individuals beyond reclamation.
"A Clubhouse like the Carriage House is not a place you come to maintain - it is a place you come to move on with your life."
Andy Wilson, Employment Manager
Carriage House Clubhouse, Fort Wayne, Indiana
A Clubhouse is in a permanent facility; members live elsewhere. The Clubhouse is a meeting place where decision-making is shared, and where members and staff work together to determine policies and future directions and to manage day-to-day activities.
At the core of the Clubhouse experience is the work-ordered-day, an 8-hour period each Monday through Friday during which the business of the Clubhouse is accomplished. The work-ordered-day intentionally parallels the typical business day in the general community. Members and staff work together in an open, friendly environment to prepare daily meals, operate the switchboard, issue a newsletter, run the mailroom, operate an employment placement and support program, manage housing services, participate in advocacy on behalf of both the Clubhouses and people with mental illness generally, and do whatever else is seen as important to the life of the Clubhouse.
As members grow stronger and more confident, they may choose to continue their education at a local university or return to part-time paid employment through the Clubhouse's various employment programs. Clubhouses also offer help with disability benefits; personal finances; recreation; and appropriate referrals to (and assistance with) medical and clinical services as needed.
Because Clubhouse membership never expires, these organizations provide consistent and long-term case management, often coordinating multiple services from both public and private agencies. Thus, Clubhouses often become the primary source of community support, services, and case management for their members.
Through the Clubhouse, members can begin to rebuild the careers and relationships which were disrupted by disabling illness. For many members, the productive routine and welcoming community of the Clubhouse provide a degree of self-acceptance and belonging these members may have considered beyond their reach. In all cases, the Clubhouse focuses on its members' strengths, talents, and abilities, giving the members a place to explore and celebrate their 'well selves'.
There are Clubhouses throughout the world. Some have active Web sites, while others can be contacted by phone or regular mail.