“When I first came to Fountain House I realized that there was hope in my life. I was not treated like there was something wrong with me. I was treated like a person. Within four months of becoming a member I had moved into a Fountain House residence and was working part-time at Dow Jones. I am now going to Hunter College and will graduate this year with a degree in Spanish Translation.”
“Being part of the Young Adult Program has helped me to interact with people my age who are in a similar situation. Fountain House has helped to bring structure back to my life and has helped me build my confidence.”
The transitional years from adolescence to adulthood are filled with firsts – first move away for home, first day of college, first love. And for those who struggle with mental health issues, it is often during this time that they first manifest. Amid the pressure to forge their own identities and identify academic and career paths, these young people have the added burden of accepting a diagnosis and finding proper treatment. Fear of being different and a lack of understanding from even the most well-intentioned friends and family can lead to feeling alone and hopeless.
The Young Adult Program at Fountain House reaches out to these young men and women and provides a community of people who recognize their unique challenges while providing the support and expertise to help them pursue their dreams.
Adults ages 16 – 30 are eligible for membership as part of the program. On average, Fountain House accepts six new young adult members a month, and we currently have 165 active members in the program.
Young adult members are integrated throughout the House. The rehabilitative effect of Fountain House is found in the relationships built through the day-to-day activities of the units. Every unit has a young adult membership, making our program one of the few with an intergenerational approach. Additionally each unit designates a member-staff team to participate in weekly Young Adult planning meetings.
We provide strong targeted outreach to schools, hospitals, and other treatment programs. The stigma all too often associated with mental illness makes professionals reluctant to give diagnoses to young people, and it makes families and patients reluctant to accept them. Through our outreach efforts, we hope to dispel some of these common fears and to offer hope that mental illness need not rob a person of their dreams.
Recognizing that many young adults wish to achieve educational goals, we tapped numerous resources to strengthen our Education Unit. We now have the largest, most successful Supported Education program in the United States.
The Young Adult Planning Committee frequently organizes social activities in New York City and beyond (theme parks, sporting events, movies, shopping, etc.). These events are open to any member of the Fountain House community but are meant to appeal especially to the young adults.
Fountain House has been a leader among clubhouses in promoting young adult programs. Each spring we host colleagues from clubhouses around the world at High Point Farm for a week-long training called “Engaging Young Adults in the Clubhouse.” that focuses on developing and sustaining programs for young adults.
In 2004 the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation recognized Fountain House for its work with young adults with a $1.5 million grant.