It is estimated that in any one year in the UK 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health difficulty, and that mental ill-health costs UK businesses £26 billion each year. Employers that create supportive working environments and make appropriate adjustments for staff will reap the benefits. In addition, raising awareness of wellbeing and promoting open discussion can only help to overcome the stigma there is against mental health issues.
Clubhouses provide members with opportunities to return to paid employment in integrated work settings through both Transitional Employment and Independent Employment programs.
Transitional Employment is a highly structured program for members returning to work in local business and industry. Transitional Employment Placements (TEP) are at the employer’s place of business, are part-time, and include a lot of on-the-job and off-site support from Clubhouse staff and other members. These placements generally last from six to nine months. Members can then try another placement or move on to independent employment. Transitional Employment is specifically designed as a vocational rehabilitation program where a member can gain or re-gain the skills and confidence necessary to have a job, while he or she is employed in a “real world” position. The only requirement for the member to participate in Transitional Employment is the expressed desire to work.
Independent Employment is a program of the Clubhouse through which members, when ready, are broadly helped by the Clubhouse to seek and obtain a job of their own. The Clubhouse then provides ongoing support and encouragement for the members as long as they remain employed and want assistance. There is no on-site support at the place of business for members in Independent Employment; all support takes place at the Clubhouse, or in the community.
Although Clubhouses employ paid support staff, services are typically understaffed as a means of ensuring that everything is delivered in a partnership between members and staff. Members also need the staff and other members in order to complete the work, but even more importantly, the relationships that evolve through this work together are the key ingredient in Clubhouse reablement. The Clubhouse members and staff as a community are charged with prioritising, organising and accomplishing the tasks that are important to make the Clubhouse a success.
Relationships between members and staff develop naturally as they work together side by side carrying out the daily duties of the Clubhouse. All of the staff have generalist roles in the Clubhouse and are involved in all of the Clubhouse activities. Working closely together each day, members and staff learn of each others’ strengths, talents and abilities.
The role of the staff in a Clubhouse is to engage with members as colleagues in important work, and to be encouraging and engaging with people who might not yet believe in themselves.
A Clubhouse is a membership organisation, and the people who come and participate in a Clubhouse are its members. Membership in a Clubhouse is open to anyone who has a history of mental illness and has been referred by a GP or other health or social care professional, or support worker. If the prospective member does not yet have access to such a reference, they may self-refer by filling in the Contact Form and choosing the option Member Query. This idea of membership is fundamental to the Clubhouse concept, and implies that the person has both shared ownership and shared responsibility for the success of the Clubhouse.
The Clubhouse is designed to be a place where a person living with mental ill-health is not treated as a patient and is not defined by a disability label, but is seen as a valued participant, a colleague and as someone who has something to contribute to the rest of the group. Each person is a valued part of a community engaged in important work and contributes to the health and wellbeing of the entire community. Clubhouse membership is for life.
The skills, talents, and creative ideas and efforts of each member are needed and encouraged each day. Participation is voluntary, but each member is always invited to participate in work which may include clerical duties, reception, food service, transportation management, outreach, maintenance, research, managing the employment and education programs, wellbeing activities, financial services and other areas.