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What is a Clubhouse?
The Basic Components of a Clubhouse (from
A Work Day

The daily activity of a Clubhouse is organized around a structured system known as the work-ordered day. The work-ordered day is an eight-hour period, typically Monday through Friday, which parallels the business hours of the working community where the Clubhouse is located. Members and staff work side by side, as colleagues, to carry the work that is important to their community. All of the work in the Clubhouse is for the Clubhouse and not for any outside agency or business. There are no clinical therapies or treatment-oriented programs in the Clubhouse. Members volunteer to participate as they feel ready and according to their individual interests.

The Employment Programs

As a right of membership 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 community-based business and industry. Transitional Employment placements are at the employer’s place of business, are part time (15-20 hours per week), 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 then can try another placement or move on to independent employment. This program 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 from 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 given help from the Clubhouse to apply for and acquire a job of their own. The Clubhouse then provides on-going support and encouragement for the members as long as they remain employed and request assistance. There is no on-site support at the place of business for members in independent employment. All of the support is at the Clubhouse.

The Evening, Weekend and Holiday Programs

In addition to the work opportunities, Clubhouses provide evening, weekend, and holiday social and recreational programming. Members and staff together organize structured and non-structured social activities. These activities are always scheduled outside of the work-ordered day. Holidays are celebrated on the day on which they fall. Activities are scheduled at the Clubhouse and in the community.

Community Support

People living with mental illness often require a variety of social and medical services. Through the work day at the Clubhouse, members are given help accessing the best quality services in their community. Help is given to members in acquiring and keeping affordable and dignified housing, good mental health and general medical services, government disability benefits and any other services they may need. Members and staff from the Clubhouse provide all of this support and assistance.


Part of the daily work of the Clubhouse involves keeping track of all of the active members. When a member does not attend the Clubhouse or is in the hospital, a “reach-out” telephone call or visit is made to the absent member. Each member is reminded that he or she is missed, and welcome and needed at the Clubhouse. This process not only encourages members to participate but it is an early warning system for members who are experiencing difficulties and may need extra help.


Many Clubhouse members have had their education plans interrupted by mental illness. Some have not finished secondary school and others had their university experience disrupted. The Clubhouse offers educational opportunities for members to complete or start certificate and degree programs at academic institutions and adult education programs. The Clubhouse also utilizes the talents and skills of members and staff to provide educational opportunities in the Clubhouse.


Safe, decent, dignified housing is a right of all members. The Clubhouse helps members to access quality housing. If there is none available for members, the Clubhouse seeks funding and creates its own housing program.

Decision-making and Governance

Decision-making and governance are an important part of the Clubhouse work. Members and staff meet in open forums to discuss policy issues and future planning for the Clubhouse.

Clubhouses also have an independent board of directors or advisory board that is charged with oversight management, fundraising, public relations and helping to develop employment opportunities for members.