The Clubhouse Model: Designing Communities to Empower People with Serious Mental Illness

April 2024

Loneliness and isolation are pressing public health concerns across the United States, according to the Office of the Surgeon General. While experiences of loneliness can happen to anyone, people with serious mental illness are at higher risk of social isolation and its deleterious effects due, in part, to the public stigma surrounding them.

The transformative “clubhouse model” is a non-clinical, community-based psychosocial rehabilitation service. It provides a space for people with serious mental illness to engage in a planned community where they can cultivate meaningful relationships with both fellow members and committed staff. A growing body of research demonstrates that this model promotes uniquely supportive social relationships when compared to other mental health programs and effectively links members to employment and education opportunities while reducing hospitalizations and related costs.

This webinar, made possible through the Seven Foundation Collaborative, featured presenters with on-the-ground experience implementing the clubhouse model, including staff (known as “social practitioners”) and a member.  It focused on:

  • Key program elements including the clubhouse model philosophy and standards, team roles, and training;
  • How clubhouses fit into and complement the mental health service landscape;
  • Lessons for supporting clubhouse members in attaining greater social connection, employment, housing, and other positive benefits; and
  • Guidance on starting and sustaining a clubhouse.

Presenters included Rita Chang, Member, Communications Unit, Fountain House; Lori D'Angelo, PhD, Executive Director, Magnolia Clubhouse; Samene Reid, LMSW, Silver Center Program Director, Fountain House; and Jack Yatsko, MSW, Chief Operating Officer, Clubhouse International.

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