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Case Statement

The Need for a Clubhouse in Beaufort County

Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a persistent and serious mental illness that substantially interferes with their lives.  In Beaufort County, that translates to over 7,500 people. Existing services are insufficient to meet the needs of individuals with mental illness in Beaufort County.  Public agencies are under-funded, under-staffed, and by necessity focus on short term treatment instead of long term recovery. Individuals with mental illness are often caught in a continual, costly cycle of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and incarcerations. In addition to the impact on the individual, the effect on their family is often profound.

An accredited  Clubhouse International Clubhouse in Beaufort County can play a significant role in addressing these issues.  The Clubhouse International model has been implemented in more than 320 communities in 34 countries since its inception in 1948.  Clubhouse International has succeeded in creating something that didn’t exist before: A worldwide community that is changing the world of mental health. Clubhouses offer people living with mental illness opportunities for friendship, employment, housing, education and access to medical and psychiatric services in a single caring and safe environment – so they can recover and fully participate as valued and respected members of society.

Our Opportunity

One of the most successful Clubhouses is in Greenville, South Carolina.  Established in 1988, Gateway House is a training center for Clubhouse International.  With support from a grant from Clubhouse International, Gateway House will be working with us and three other South Carolina communities to establish Clubhouses.  This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

Vision & Mission

Our vision is that people living with persistent mental illness will be empowered to reach their full potential and will participate as productive members of their community.

Our mission is to provide a safe, welcoming, and productive place for individuals living with persistent mental illness by establishing an accredited Clubhouse in Beaufort County, SC.

The Beaufort County Clubhouse

The Beaufort County Clubhouse is a membership-based community where people living with persistent mental illness come to rebuild their lives.  Participants – who are members, not patients, clients or consumers – share ownership of and responsibility for the success of the organization.   Our Clubhouse will be organized around a work-ordered day, wherein members will participate with staff to operate the Clubhouse. The Clubhouse provides: an accepting place to spend the day; valuable work to perform within the organization; opportunities to socialize with friends and co-workers; and access to education and employment within the community.  We will work with employers in the area to facilitate employment for those members interested in and capable of working in the community.  In addition, we will work with organizations in the mental health community and others to ensure members have access to appropriate services, including health care, transportation, and housing.

The Clubhouse is built upon the belief that every member can sufficiently recover from the effects of mental illness to lead a personally satisfying and productive life. Recovery is achieved through work and work-mediated relationships, which are proven to be restorative and provide a firm foundation for growth, self-respect, and individual achievement.

Clubhouse Membership

The Beaufort Clubhouse will potentially serve 250 adults each year with an active membership of approximately 150 and an estimated daily attendance of 40 members.  Membership is free and voluntary, long-term, and open to anyone living with persistent mental illness who meets Clubhouse International membership criteria.

Clubhouse Location and Building

The Clubhouse will be established in Beaufort County. It will be located conveniently for members and nearby mental health services. The Clubhouse building will be comfortable, welcoming, and convey a sense of respect and dignity. It will have a reception area, a commercial kitchen and a dining area, and more.

Clubhouse Staff

The Clubhouse paid staff will be very small consistent with the Clubhouse International model.  There will be an Executive Director and 4-6 staff who usually work in a generalist capacity.  The day-to-day operation of Clubhouse will be primarily accomplished by its members.

Clubhouse Features

The Clubhouse is structured around the work-ordered day, which provides meaningful jobs for members. In addition, activities which provide support and jobs for member are offered:

  • Employment Programs – The Clubhouse provides members with opportunities to return to paid employment.  We offer three programs: Transitional employment, Supported employment, and Independent employment assistance
  • Social and Recreational Programs
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Assistance and support in accessing community services.

Clubhouse Benefits

The Clubhouse offers members an improved quality of life.  Clubhouse International has shown the benefits of the Clubhouse model.  In addition, the model was accepted for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Registry of Evidence Based Practices and Programs (NREPP) in 2011.   Documented results include:

  • Higher Employment: Studies have shown that the Clubhouse model provides higher rates of employment, longer job tenure, and higher earnings than other programs.
  • Improved Well-Being: Compared with individuals receiving services as usual, Clubhouse members were significantly more likely to report that they had close friendships and someone they could rely on when they needed help.
  • Reduced Health Care Costs: In one study[iv], Clubhouse members experienced a $5,000 to $9,000 reduction in mental health care costs compared to non-members
  • Fewer Incarcerations:  Criminal justice system involvement is substantially less for Clubhouse members.  Approximately 24% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a clinically diagnosed mental health condition. 

The Clubhouse is cost-effective.  Because of savings in public mental health care costs as well as fewer incarcerations, we will see significant cost savings:

  • Reduced Health Care costs: For 150 members, if costs could be reduced by $5,000 per member, this would translate into savings of at least $750,000 annually and probably significantly more.
  • Reduced Incarceration: In Beaufort County, the average cost for an incarceration is $4,311[vi]. If we can keep 30 members out of jail once per year, we could save $129,000.
  • Reduced costs of services at the Clubhouse:  The cost to support one member for one year at a typical Clubhouse, based on Clubhouse International data, is approximately $5,000. This is significantly less than other service models.

With an active membership of 150, the Clubhouse will have a budget of around $750,000. This would reduce the costs to the community of “treating” mental illness significantly and improve the quality of life for individuals living with persistent and serious mental illness.

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