Why Do We Need Connections Place? I am asked why do we need Connections Place? Here is a quick answer: People living with mental illness (aged 18 and over) would reclaim their lives through a supportive community environment. These individuals would build confidence, self-esteem and become contributing members in our community. Services offered would include pre-vocational, employment, housing, education, physical wellness, youth and social. The objective is for members to achieve their personal, social, financial and vocational goals. This takes place in one location – under one roof.
Isolation Is A Big Concern: people struggling may not leave home, sleep too much, smoke too much, self medicate or depend on aging parents. Sometimes people switch their sleeping patterns so they are awake during the night and sleep during the day. There is a lot of shame attached to having a mental illness and sometimes it is just easier to not be around others.
We recognize and support recovery from mental illness separately from addictions. People struggling with addiction will be referred to an addiction program.
Examples of unique opportunities within the Clubhouse Model:
Community: A restorative community 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. One place to guide people to social inclusion. One place to link individuals to other services.
Standards: 37 International Standards exist that ensure positive outcomes.
Transitional Employment: The Clubhouse partners with businesses and provides opportunities for members to work part-time in an entry-level position with on-going support for 6 – 9 months. Coverage is guaranteed either by Clubhouse staff or a member.
Work-Ordered Day: Members and staff work side by side in all aspects of the Clubhouse. A work environment provides focus for all parts of a person’s life – skills, interests and relationships. Clubhouse work is meaningful because it arises from the actual needs of the members and the functioning of the Clubhouse. Some of the work includes clerical, food services, administration and maintenance.
Young Adult Program: For ages 18 to 30 to gather and work side by side on daily activities. Social activities planned geared towards youth interests. Support to further educational and employment goals.
Clubhouse Bank: Encourages and promotes the use by members of the safety and structure provided by a bank, including making deposits, withdrawals of cash, and preparing checks for the payment of bills. Staff and members work together in managing and budgeting money. Small amounts of money can easily be withdrawn on a daily basis, helping people adhere to a budget and get through a month without running out of money.
Egalitarian: All people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities. Members and staff share the same spaces in the Clubhouse – all space is open to both. You usually cannot tell who is staff and who is a member. Members sit on the board of the Clubhouse and are involved in all decision making by consensus.
Evenings and Weekend Activities: Social activities are organized by both staff and members
Life Membership: The aim is for people to move on into the Community; however, some people need longer than others – the door is always open to them. Sometimes people have a slip with their mental health, and again, the door is open – no need to re-apply for membership.
Non-Clinical: No therapists or specialists on site. Focus is strengths of the individual not their illness. Members are wanted and needed and are not receiving service but actually helping others meet their goals. Staff receives training by Clubhouse International.
Open 7 Days per Week: An accredited Clubhouse is open 365 days per year. Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Day.
Outreach: At the very onset of the illness, while in hospital, trained members work with staff to visit patients on the psychiatric ward. They will invite them to the Clubhouse (when they receive a day pass) to learn about Clubhouse and have a meal too. Members reach out to other members who are expected at the Clubhouse.
Peer Support: Unlike other programs, relationships naturally develop with no appointments or wait lists, or matching up of members by staff.