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Clubhouses: Offering Hope to People with Mental Illness

In Featured, Mental Health Resources, News by eri

We all need a place where we feel like we belong, people we feel connected to, and to know we’re needed and valued. Meeting these needs can be especially challenging for people who experience mental illness.

Fortunately, Clubhouses empower people with mental illness opportunities to lead more fulfilling, productive lives. Through working with others as valued participants, Clubhouse members develop friendships, regain a sense of belonging, and feel needed.

The Clubhouse Model: Focus on Empowerment and Support

Clubhouses are organized around the belief that work and relationships are key to recovery. Because they pay attention to abilities rather than deficits, members feel empowered and supported to regain their roles in society.

Studies show that Clubhouses have good employment outcomes, positively impact the quality of members’ lives, and, by member report, advance recovery because of Clubhouse involvement.

Certified Clubhouses follow standards proven to help people with mental illness reach their goals, and the model is recognized as an evidence-based practice by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration. Although individual Clubhouse programming may vary, core Clubhouse components include:

Work-Ordered Day

The daily activity at a Clubhouse is similar to any work place, consisting of 8-hour days Monday through Friday. Members and staff work side-by-side, performing work for the Clubhouse. Members are encouraged to participate as they are ready and quickly become relied upon. Typical daily work includes:

  • planning and preparing lunch for Clubhouse colleagues.
  • maintaining attendance and accounting records for billing purposes.
  • communications about Clubhouse events, employment celebrations, and membership tours.

Employment and Education

The Clubhouse supports members to work in the community and continue learning. Their supports include:

Transitional Employment Program

This program places members in part-time jobs that last approximately six months at local businesses. Clubhouse members receive both on- and off-site support.

Independent Employment Program

Clubhouses provide ongoing support at the Clubhouse to members who are seeking work or who are working permanent jobs.

Educational Opportunities

Clubhouses offer educational opportunities that may vary from Clubhouse to Clubhouse.

Evening, Weekend, and Holiday Activities

Clubhouses provide numerous social and recreational activities outside of the work-ordered day.

Community Support

Members receive assistance to access community resources such as medical care, crisis intervention, housing, and disability benefits.

Decision-making Opportunities

Members participate in making consensus-based decisions related to Clubhouse operations.

Who Can Join?

Membership is open to anyone who has experienced mental illness. However, some Clubhouses have additional requirements (such as Medicaid insurance), so it is best to contact individual Clubhouses directly.

Clubhouses in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is fortunate to have five certified Clubhouses. If you are interested in becoming a member, call a Clubhouse close to you to arrange a tour and see how it’s done ‘Clubhouse-style.’

Visit the Clubhouse International website for more information and a global Clubhouse Directory.

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