A Clubhouse is a vocational rehabilitation program for adults with mental illness. The Clubhouse model of rehabilitation has been providing employment opportunities and transforming lives for 69 years throughout the world. Clubhouses are accredited through Clubhouse International, a non-profit organization that oversees clubhouse programs worldwide by promoting awareness, advocacy, expansion, training and accreditation. (“1 in 4 People Worldwide Has a Mental Illness. “) There are approximately 322 clubhouses around the world in 33 different countries.
Maine currently has four Clubhouses: High Hopes Clubhouse in Waterville, Capitol Clubhouse in Augusta, Looking Ahead Clubhouse in Lewiston and Unlimited Solutions in Bangor. The clubhouse model of rehabilitation is non-clinical in approach and organized to support people with mental illness with gaining opportunities to rejoin the worlds of employment and educational services as part of their recovery. Participants in the program are members, rather than clients or consumers, focusing on strengths, talents and abilities, rather than illnesses. “Clubhouse International”)
Maine has been utilizing this model successfully for the past 25 years with the support of local business that have partnered with clubhouse services. Some of these include; Dunkin Donuts, Catholic Charities, Longhorn’s Steakhouse, Longfellow’s Greenhouses, Century 21, YMCA, as well as many other prominent businesses These are active and successful partnerships that the clubhouses currently maintains employment opportunities for clubhouse members.
The mission of Clubhouses is to improve the quality of life for adults who experience mental illness by providing employment, educational and social opportunities. The goal is that members are treated with dignity and respected as colleagues, neighbors and friends by people in the community and afforded the same opportunity as others. What is Transitional Employment? Transitional Employment is a program unique to clubhouses that provides a mutually beneficial partnership with employers in the community by providing well-trained, motivated members to work part-time entry-level positions for six to nine months.
It gives members who seek to become fully independent a real work experience and the opportunity to gain skills and build a resume, while being paid competitive wages. According to Clubhouse International Faculty Member, Ralph Bilby, “Transitional Employment is itself a form of supported employment, in fact the most supported of all variations.. ” (Transitional Employment”) Once a company has a position to be filled, the clubhouse will find a member that suits the needs of that position and learn the job with that member to the employer’s satisfaction.
The clubhouse then provides one on one job coaching and support to the member and employer should there be any questions or concerns during their placement. Once the placement is complete, the clubhouse will prepare another member to work the position, so there is a continual rotation of coverage for the employer. In the event that the member is unable to complete the placement, clubhouse staff will work with the employer to the best of their ability to provide coverage and prepare another member to fill the position.
Clubhouses offer various levels of employment supports, however this report will focus on transitional employment. Clubhouses are dedicated to finding employment opportunities for those who are seeking it. These are people who want to work and are glad to work; proud to earn a paycheck. This is a great way to take an office job that is an extra burden on staff day-to-day and give these tasks to an individual who wants to earn a paycheck that maybe thought they never could, or wants to re-acclimate to work.
Governor Paul LePage is a strong supporter of clubhouse employment programs, stating, “This is a program that I stand behind 100 percent. ” He was the first employer in Maine to provide transitional employment opportunities to clubhouse members in the 1990’s. To date, he speaks highly of clubhouse, having presented at the 2016 Clubhouse International Seminar in Washington DC in support of clubhouse programs. He also visited Capitol Clubhouse in 2016 while being interviewed by the national news program Full Measure, sharing his belief in the Clubhouse model of rehabilitation.
Governor Paul LePage with Capitol Clubhouse Members. According to Governor LePage, “I know personally that hiring Clubhouse members is a good business decision. In addition, you are setting an example as an excellent community partner and helping people with psychiatric disabilities to build their confidence and work experience. I know these jobs can transform people’s lives,” (“Gov. LePage Honored for Work with Waterville Project to Help Mentally Ill”) Maine: Employment First State
Maine’s Employment First Law was implemented in 2013 to make employment a priority, while helping people with disabilities find jobs that maximize their potential. Real employment for people with disabilities not only benefits the person, but the employer and society as a whole. Employment provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to participate more independently in society and experience the pride and freedom that comes from supporting yourself. Society benefits when people with disabilities can support themselves. “SP0471, LD 1352, Item 1, An Act To Provide Integrated Community-Based Employment and Customized Employment for Persons with Disabilities”)
The following bullets highlight a few key points of what the Employment First Act means for Maine. This information was obtained from the Employment First Maine website. Employment will be the first and preferred option when exploring goals for citizen with disabilities; everyone will have employment goals as a core service component. Citizens with disabilities will be employed within the general workforce, regardless of the severity of disability and assistance required.
Employers will include people with disabilities within general recruitment and hiring efforts as standard practice. Individuals with disabilities will have increased incomes, financial assets, and economic wealth. Citizens with disabilities will have greater opportunities to advance in their careers, by taking full advantage of their individual strengths and talents. Funding will be sufficient so that quality services and supports are available as needed for long term employment success.
There will be measurable increases in employment of citizens with disabilities within the general workforce, earning minimum wage or higher with benefits. Gov. LePage Honored for Work with Waterville Project to Help Mentally Ill. The Employment First Maine Act identifies the state’s intent to promote and facilitate Mainer’s with disabilities participation in gainful employment. According to Governor Paul LePage’s office, Maine has 11, 808 state employees, none of which are Capitol Clubhouse members. Clubhouse Data from Clubhouse International Conclusion
Transitional employment placements are a win-win situation for all. They aid in recovery, save taxpayers money and reduce reliance on benefits. The state of Maine has approximately 13,286 employees. This is a formal request that transitional employment placements be added for each of the clubhouses in Maine as positions become vacant. Maine is a progressive state, and clubhouses in Maine believe that state government should provide opportunities for programs that the Governor verbally supports and that are evidenced based federally by SAMSHA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
While the Governor verbalizes support, Maine clubhouses have been unsuccessful with obtaining transitional employment in state government. The purpose of this report is to promote transitional employment opportunities in each of the state government departments. The Governor has been vocal about his support of Clubhouses, now would be a good time to back that support up with employment opportunities.