A Clubhouse is first and foremost a local community centre that offers people living with mental illnesses hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential. Much more than simply a programme or a social service, a Clubhouse is a community of people working together to achieve a common goal.
A Clubhouse is organised 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 average Clubhouse serves 150 members monthly and 65 each day, but daily numbers range from 10 to 325. Start-up Clubhouses typically have one or two staff for the first year until funding can be organised for more. The role of the staff in a Clubhouse is not to educate or treat the members. The staff are there to engage with members as colleagues in important work and to be encouraging and engaging with people who might not yet believe in themselves. Clubhouse staff are charged with being colleagues, workers, talent scouts and cheerleaders.
Clubhouses offer people living with mental illness hope and opportunities to reach their full potential. They operate on proven standards which have been developed by Clubhouse International over two and a half decades, and which are effective in over 330 Clubhouses worldwide. The Clubhouse model is replicable in any location because it relies on the concepts of community, local cultural norms and the available resources.
The basic components of successful Clubhouses are:
- A Work-Ordered Day: An eight-hour period, typically Monday through Friday, which parallels the typical business hours of the Clubhouse’s local community
- Employment Programs: Opportunities to return to paid employment in integrated work settings through both Transitional Employment and Independent Employment programmes
- Evening, Weekend and Holiday Activities: Structured and non-structured social activities scheduled outside the work-ordered day
- Community Support: Help in accessing the best quality social and medical services available in their community; such as affordable and dignified housing, psychiatric and general medical services, and government disability benefits
- Reach-Out: Keeping in contact with all active members when they do not attend the Clubhouse, through telephone calls and visits, reminding them that they are missed, welcome and needed
- Education: Educational opportunities for members to complete or start certificate and degree programmes at academic institutions and adult education providers. Members’ talents and skills are used to provide educational opportunities to others, particularly in literacy
- Housing: Help in accessing safe, decent and dignified housing. Where none is available, the Clubhouse seeks funding and establishes its own housing programme
- Decision-Making and Governance: Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss policy issues and future planning