The Clubhouse

What is a Clubhouse?

A Clubhouse is first and foremost a local community center that offers people who have mental illness hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential. Much more than simply a program or a social service, a Clubhouse is most importantly a community of people who are working together to achieve a common goal.

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 ICCD 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.

Clubhouse Principals:

  • Members (program participants) work side-by-side with staff and peers in running the daily operations of Frontier House.
  • Members engage in work of the program such as preparing lunch, accounting and bookkeeping, fundraising, public relations, receptionist, custodial duties, and so MUCH more.
  • Members volunteer to participate as they feel ready and according to their individual interests.
  • Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss policy issues and future planning for the Clubhouse.
  • Members have the opportunity to return to paid employment in typical work settings with varying levels of support. Employment options may vary from Transitional employment to options offering more permanency, such as Supported or Independent Employment.
  • Community support services are offered to Frontier House members and include assistance with housing, public benefits, accessing medical resources, referrals/support for substance use issues, and other assistance based on individual needs.