Communities around the world 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.
The Clubhouse Model is built on the belief that every member has the potential to recover from the effects of mental illnesses and lead a personally satisfying life as an integrated member of society. “Clubhouses are organized around a belief that work, and work-mediated relationships, are restorative and provide a firm foundation for growth and important individual achievement (Beard, Propst, Malamud, 1982), and the belief that normalized social and recreational opportunities are an important part of a person’s path to recovery.”
Members of Vail Place are not treated as patients and are not defined by a disability label. They are active participants in carrying out the activities of the organization. The number of staff members is intentionally small relative to the number of members to emphasize peer support and ensure that members recognize that they are needed and valued for their skills and capabilities. Each person is a critical part of a community engaged in important work.
In a Clubhouse, each member is given the message that he or she is welcome, wanted, needed, and expected each day.
The daily work of the Clubhouse community is organized and carried out in a way that continually reinforces this message of belonging. This is not difficult, because in fact the work of the Clubhouse does require the participation of its members. Participation is voluntary, but each member is always invited to participate in work which includes clerical duties, reception, food service, transportation management, outreach, maintenance, research, managing the employment and education programs, financial services, and much more.
Membership in a Clubhouse gives a person living with mental illness the opportunity to share in creating successes for their community. At the same time, he or she is getting the necessary help and support to achieve individual success and satisfaction.
The Clubhouse Model is recognized by SAMHSA as an Evidence Based Practice, based on research and outcomes, in the areas of employment, improved quality of life, and mental health recovery.