The Clubhouse Model

What is a Clubhouse?

A Clubhouse is first and foremost a member-based community that offers people with mental illness the hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential. More than a social service or a program, a Clubhouse is a community of people working together to achieve this shared goal. It is, in brief, a restorative environment for people who have had their lives drastically disrupted by mental illness, and need the support of others who believe that recovery is possible for all.

Through participation in the Clubhouse, people are given the opportunities to rejoin the worlds of friendship, family, employment and education.

And the model works. Outcomes from Clubhouse participation include (data available):

  • Employment, with longer on-the-job tenure for members engaging in Clubhouse transitional employment
  • Cost effectiveness, compared to other mental healthcare approaches (between 1/3 and ½ the cost)
  • Decreased hospitalizations, as a result of membership in a Clubhouse program
  • Reduced incarcerations, with criminal justice system involvement substantially diminished during and after Clubhouse program membership
  • Improved well-being, with studies showing Clubhouse members significantly more likely to report that they have close and supportive friendships

The Clubhouse approach has been recognized as an evidence-based practice by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) , and was awarded the 2014 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

What will the Capital Clubhouse offer its members?

Like other Clubhouses across the world, Capital Clubhouse will provide living proof that people with mental illness can lead productive and satisfying lives. It will over time offer members:

  • a Clubhouse day in which the talents and abilities of members are recognized and encouraged
  • opportunities to obtain paid employment in mainstream industries and businesses
  • assistance in accessing educational resources and other community-support resources
  • assistance in securing and sustaining safe, decent and affordable housing
  • participation in consensus-based decision making for all important matters relating on the running of the Clubhouse
  • evening/weekend/holiday social and recreational events

Why does Washington, D.C. need a Clubhouse?

Over 35,000 individuals currently receive mental health services under the auspices of the Department of Mental Health of the District of Columbia. Many more people receive services from private or other providers. In addition, certain consumers receive educational, vocational, and health services in connection with their mental health services. Finally, the headquarters of numerous think tanks, provider associations, advocacy organizations, and legal experts on mental health issues are located in Washington - influencing mental health policy nationally.

Still, as elsewhere, mental health resources remain gravely inadequate in the Nation’s Capital The District of Columbia ranked 6th nationally for the extent of cuts to its mental health budget between 2009 and 2011 (-19%; source: NAMI). Its only mental health clubhouse, the Green Door, closed at the end of 2010, faced with financial pressures. The Green Door was centrally located, long lived and highly esteemed by the community. Each of us connected with mental health in the District of Columbia was shocked and dismayed by the loss. Four years later, there is still no Clubhouse offering a “place to belong” to DC residents living with mental illness. Capital Clubhouse will be this place.

Some data on mental illness in Washington, D.C.

  • The District’s public mental health system provides services to only 42% of resident adults with serious mental illnesses (NAMI)
  • Potentially 60% of DC adults and 72% of DC adolescents with depression and enrolled in Medicaid managed care have unmet need for depression services (Rand Corporation Report on Behavioral Health in DC)
  • 12% of DC high school students attempted suicide one or more times during a surveyed 12-month period, versus 8% nationally (Office of Adolescent Health)
  • The attempted suicide rate among DC’s high school males is 13%, versus 6% nationally (Office of adolescent Health)
Capital Clubhouse Inc is a 501(c)3 organization, located in Washington, DC.