A Clubhouse is first and foremost a community of people. Much more than simply a program, or a social service, a Clubhouse is most importantly a community of people who are working together toward a common goal. A Clubhouse is a community intentionally organized to support individuals living with the effects of mental illness. Through participation in a clubhouse people are given the opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendships, family, important work, employment, education, and to access the services and supports they may individually need. A Clubhouse is a restorative environment for people who have had their lives drastically disrupted, and need the support of others who believe that recovery from mental illness is possible for all. The descriptive name of Clubhouse was taken from the original language that was used to communicate the work and vision of the first clubhouse, Fountain House in New York City, started in 1948. As the first community of its kind, Fountain House has served as the model for all subsequent Clubhouses that have developed 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 to be 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 is at the very heart of the Clubhouse way of working. (Joel Corcoran Executive Director, ICCD)
WHAT IS A CLUBHOUSE: IS IT A PRIVATE CLUB? A Clubhouse is a local community center where people who participate are known as “Members.” Although not entirely exclusive, membership is open only to people living with a mental illness, typically any local adult resident who has a history of mental illness. A Clubhouse is a place where members can find others who understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness. It is not a treatment program or mental health service, but rather a place where members develop friendships and opportunities to work together. At a Clubhouse, members also find structured opportunities to get help with needed services such as housing or healthcare, and to return to school or employment.
CAN ANYONE BECOME A CLUBHOUSE MEMBER? MUST I BE REFERRED BY A DOCTOR AND/OR ANOTHER MEMBER? Yes, typically, if you are an adult living with mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, depression, major personality disorder, etc.), you are eligible for membership. Each Clubhouse has its own application and referral process, but self-referrals are also welcomed. Clubhouses are very friendly places, so if you are interested in learning more about a particular Clubhouse, we advise you to call and set up a visit.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE AGE OF A CLUBHOUSE MEMBER? (AM I TOO OLD, TOO YOUNG?) The average age varies, but Clubhouses are for adults. Some Clubhouses have specific programs for young adults, but most accept members who are 18 years or older. Typically, there is no upper age limit. The average age of Clubhouse members worldwide is about 35, but we have many members who are older and younger than that. Clubhouses offer members many opportunities to become involved, and all offer things to do that are suitable for adults of any age.
WHAT IS THE COST OF BECOMING A CLUBHOUSE MEMBER? Membership at a Clubhouse is free to anyone living with a mental illness. Clubhouses do not need to charge members for their services because they receive most of their funding from government or municipal grants or contracts.
DO I NEED HEALTH INSURANCE TO COVER THE COSTS OF BECOMING A CLUBHOUSE MEMBER? No. Some Clubhouses have certain eligibility requirements for the receipt of government-funded services, but most people living with mental illness will qualify. In the rare circumstance when someone doesn’t qualify, a Clubhouse will generally help that individual find an alternative source of funding.
WHAT IS A STAFF MEMBER? A Clubhouse staff member is a paid employee of the Clubhouse. Clubhouse staff members have specific job responsibilities related to the day-to-day operation of the Clubhouse and helping members with their individual recoveries and/or life goals.