Home News Mental Illness Care at HOPE Clubhouse: A Unique Approach

Mental Illness Care at HOPE Clubhouse: A Unique Approach

Mental Illness Care at HOPE Clubhouse: A Unique Approach

Lauren Walker, COO of HOPE Clubhouse, checks out the flower garden with Roz Barminski, the staff master gardener. LAURA TICHY / FLORIDA WEEKLY

It’s not an unusual sight throughout the region on weekday mornings: People gather for a temporary meeting where the day’s work is divvied up, after which they disperse to their work areas to perform their tasks, which on this particular place are divided into horticulture, culinary, and business units. What’s different here is that there’s no supervisor assigning the work; the members of HOPE Clubhouse of Southwest Florida compile the list of tasks themselves that must be achieved to run the clubhouse after which select which tasks they’d prefer to volunteer to work on that day. A small paid staff assists them as team members, moderately than assigning them duties or presenting programming for them. The members have the choice to give attention to working in a single unit, akin to the restaurant-style kitchen where they might construct culinary work skills, or can shift continuously between units to learn a wide range of work and life skills.

HOPE Clubhouse helps adults living with severe mental illness learn to give attention to their strengths, moderately than on their disability, in order that they could achieve their full life potential, to incorporate helping some members return to the workforce for the primary time in years. This focus, together with the clubhouse being self-directed by the members, makes this a really different setting than other institutions in the realm. They could attend as continuously or occasionally as suits their needs, and for full or partial days. Membership and attendance are free; the day by day lunch and a few social activities have extremely modest fees.

Broussard, the local nonprofit’s CEO, said, “We’re not an adult daycare. That is about healing, opportunity, purpose, and empowerment,’ which is what our founding moms built the name ‘HOPE’ around. Purpose and empowerment are hugely essential aspects — I’m invaluable and have something to supply, and I actually have a spot to go where I’m not stigmatized, and I actually have a spot to go where I’m not my diagnosis. Members are never their diagnosis here. Here, you’re just who you’re.”

The Fort Myers clubhouse is a component of Clubhouse International, a nonprofit that seeks to remove the stigma of mental illness and provides an evidence-based holistic method to enrich the person’s psychiatric treatments to support recovery from mental illness. The over 300 clubhouses worldwide are modeled upon the unique Fountain House in Recent York City, a social support community founded within the Forties by patients following their release from a state mental hospital. People receiving services at clubhouses are called members moderately than patients, reflecting that the organization runs on a non-hierarchical community-based model moderately than a medical one.

“It’s literally modified my life,” said Ryan Benefiel, a HOPE Clubhouse member. “Before, I’d just form of isolate and didn’t really have any friends, didn’t really do much, just form of stayed in my bedroom and that was just about my life,” he explained between answering phone calls and greeting front-door arrivals while he worked on the clubhouse’s reception desk. HOPE Clubhouse member Ryan Benefiel answers the phone as a part of his volunteer work on the clubhouse. Benefiel also serves on the nonprofit’s board of directors. LAURA TICHY / FLORIDA WEEKLY Benefiel was working as the manager vp of promoting for a publicly traded company in Atlanta when he manifested symptoms of schizo-affective disorder, which incorporates symptoms of each schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He moved back to Fort Myers to live along with his parents, and he found HOPE Clubhouse 4 years ago. He has applied his previous executive-level skilled experience to serve on the organization’s board of directors for the last two years. For instance, since people seek for the kinds of services that the organization offers, he designed a knowledge analytics program so the clubhouse can determine what regions of the county are most in need of clubhouse services.

“Coming in at 8:30 and leaving at 4:30, it’s form of just like the structure of a job that I used to have,” Benefiel said. “When you possibly can stay all day like me, it gives you that sense that I want to return back tomorrow because I would like to work on X-thing again as opposed to simply staying home where you don’t have anything to do. The clubhouse model has really proven itself, I believe, for myself. what Clubhouse International expects after which what we actually do here, that’s where the life-changing events occur. I’ve been out of the hospitals for just about two years, in order that’s really good. And also you’re in a position to avoid conflicts so much higher, I’d say. They teach you learn how to do this. For those facing interactions with law enforcement, those have been reduced for individual people.”

Many members find that following the schedule of the clubhouse’s work-ordered day while doing useful tasks provides the structure in addition to the sense of purpose they should keep their recovery from their illnesses heading in the right direction. The clubhouse helps them overcome the social isolation that usually exacerbates mental illness by providing them a spot to make friends with peers who understand their struggles firsthand. The staff helps with referrals for outdoor services, if needed. The structure, purpose, socialization, and support help members follow their medical treatment and healthful lifestyle plans to higher manage their illnesses. Members’ interactions with their families may improve, and a few members’ illnesses have improved to the purpose that they’ve returned to highschool or have gotten jobs. The clubhouse has one staff member who serves because the employment director to assist members make these connections, whether in supported, transitional, or independent jobs.

“It saved my life,” said member Hugh Ryan, who manages his depression and anxiety. “I discovered my purpose. I discovered myself again, and I discovered a second family. HOPE Clubhouse means all the pieces to me, and I are available in every likelihood I get.” Ryan focused on volunteering within the clubhouse’s culinary unit, which served nearly 3,000 lunches last 12 months that incorporated the two,500 kilos of fresh produce the horticulture unit grew within the 4,500 square feet of gardens that snake through the clubhouse’s car parking zone medians. The abilities he learned led to him landing an independent job at a Jason’s Deli, with the assistance of the clubhouse’s employment director Karen Bibbo. Now he comes back to participate as his work schedule allows.

“I believe it’s been a giant relief for my family that I discovered this place,” Ryan said. “Even once I wasn’t working or if I’m not working, it gives me a way of purpose. It gives me a spot to go. And if I’m having a tough day, I can just show up. If I’m feeling more productive, I may also help all day. So it’s a really positive, supportive environment, and anybody who’s scuffling with mental illness — I believe it might help them.”

Roz Barminski, the staff master gardener, teaches a HOPE Clubhouse member learn how to enter garden harvest data right into a computer spreadsheet. Because the only clubhouse in Southwest Florida, the organization serves members from Lee, Collier, and Charlotte counties. To succeed in the clubhouse’s central Fort Myers location, some members ride public transit a method for 2 hours — including multiple bus changes — after which reverse the journey to return home. Also, the present clubhouse, which the organization has been in since 2010, only has 2,700 square feet of indoor space. This limits the variety of members who may attend in person on any given day to under 30 people; the clubhouse began offering some services via Zoom throughout the pandemic and has continued this practice due to physical space limitations.

“We’re a small agency, with six staff serving well over 200 lively members monthly,” Broussard said. “So it’s extremely essential that there are access points to this service because we all know that we truly save lives. Along with the reduction in suicide completion — which may be very, very rare amongst lively clubhouse members — it’s also extremely rare for members to be Baker acted. It’s almost unheard of to have law enforcement engagements or the necessity for direct emergency room interventions. So we reduce all of that burden on the system.”

Broussard is presently attempting to coordinate a collaboration with a reasonable housing organization to co-locate an expanded clubhouse with greater than triple the present square footage inside a supported-living village, for resident and non-resident members alike. This plan would allow HOPE Clubhouse to serve over 100 members in person day by day. Still, Broussard provided statistics showing that 81,000 adults in Lee County alone have a diagnosed mental illness, and the county has the second-fastest growing population within the state. Once constructing an expanded clubhouse location has been achieved, she then desires to introduce satellite locations in order that


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