Jerry Dincin (1930 - 2013) worked at Fountain House from1958 to 1964. He was the first person charged with replicating the Fountain House model, developing two programs in New Jersey before moving to Chicago to become the Executive Director of Thresholds. The Fountain House communitiy offers sincere condolences to Mr. Dincin's family and friends.
The year I came to Fountain House, 1964, turned out to be Jerry's last year before taking the position of Executive Director of Thresholds, a new Clubhouse/Psychosocial Rehabilitation/Psychiatric Rehabilitation program in Chicago. During that year I didn't get to spend much time with Jerry, because he was out developing Friendship House and Prospect House, two new programs in New Jersey. (It seems that in this period the replication of the Fountain House model would be carried out, in a hands-on manner, by trained Fountain House staff.) Jerry was highly regarded by all and could or should have been the assistant director of Fountain House.
After Jerry moved to Chicago and sometime after I was appointed Program Director at Fountain House, then-Executive Director John Beard asked me to join him on a two-day trip to attend a conference in Chicago. The first evening after we arrived, we met Jerry for dinner. John and Jerry talked about many things, but I clearly remember their conversation about starting a professional organization made up of Psychosocial Rehabilitation programs. Jerry was very excited about the prospect of such an organization.
On the plane ride home, John appointed me as the Fountain House representative to help develop any formal professional organization. I should explain that from approximately 1972 to 1980 a group of programs identifying themselves as psychosocial rehabilitation programs were meeting annually to share theory, research and program innovations. The participants at these early meetings were made up of a small group of programs: Fountain House in New York, Thresholds in Chicago, Horizon House in Philadelphia, Hill House in Cleveland, Friendship House and Prospect House in New Jersey, Forward House in Montreal, and a few others made up the core programs that met in the early days.
As time went by the number of programs sending staff to these annual meetings grew until, at the urging of Jerry and Irv Rutman, the Executive Director of Horizon House, a working group was formed to plan the creation of a formal professional organization: the International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services (IAPSRS).
Once it became clear that an organization would be formed, John provided support by allowing for my involvement and participation. As a representative of Fountain House and later as the Director of The Club (in New Jersey), I socialized and worked with Jerry and the other founding IAPSRS members to create and grow the organization. Jerry and I also co-chaired some of the more exciting symposia in which we debated the importance of program cohesion and program diversity. Also, to my chagrin, we competed for a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) training grant that he won for Thresholds. In all my dealings with him, I came to know him as a creative and passionate soldier and advocate for people with mental illness with a fierceness and dedication that is hard to duplicate.
Julius Lanoil Consultant and former Program Director, Fountain House
Last month, Fountain House members and staff brought their children for a weekend at High Point Farm. It was great fun! There were 19 people in total (we barely fit in the chalet!), eight of them children ranging from 6 months to 12 years.
Ecstatic screaming and laughter dominated as the background noise in the chalet while seven of the kids played games of "Zombie" and "Stuck in the Mud" for hours on end. Oblivious to the need for food or sleep, the kids were in heaven as they barreled through each room, banged on the piano, and basically created chaos. Parents attempted to have conversation, play Scrabble or watch a movie, with some success. The only compelling distraction for these blissful children was the announcement that it was time to feed the animals. Then it was time for the cats and chickens to scatter in all directions to avoid the games of tag and reenactment of WWE matches that took place throughout the farm.
Somehow we were all fed, slept well, and left a clean house, despite the kids ruling the house. In the end, all parents were satisfied as the kids said their tearful goodbyes and promised to come back for a spring reunion. Plans were made to schedule more Parents and Kids weekends in the coming year.
Nancy Young Employment Unit Leader, Fountain House
I’ve just completed comprehensive clubhouse model training at Fountain House. This training was once again another true example of Fountain House’s innovation and commitment to developing strong clubhouses across the globe.
In this magical training we covered the basic principles of a working community, including the Fountain House history, member choice, the need to be needed, and creating a collaborative work environment.
The core group included six directors from Italy, Sweden, the United States, and of course, Australia. With the core group being made up of directors, it helped us define our ultimate role in the clubhouse community and explore together the true meaning of what started on West 47th Street New York more than sixty years ago.
If I were to summarize what makes me so excited about my last two weeks here at Fountain House, it would be not about a model that is 65 years old, but more a way of helping people with mental illness that has recovery, innovation, and strategic direction at the heart of all that it does. For directors like me, these three principles that are practiced every day at Fountain House are paramount to its success. We as directors need to accurately illustrate them in own communities across the world.
I attended with one of our members, Nick, who helped me to keep fresh in my mind the true member needs of the Toowoomba Clubhouse and to reflect on our daily discussions and what they really mean for our community in Toowoomba.
Luke Terry Executive Director, Toowoomba Clubhouse
The Fountain House Supported Education program is rooted in its successful "working community" approach.We are pleased to announce that Fountain House has received the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Award of Excellenc
In a recent Fountain House blog, Summer Berman addressed the renewed stigmatization of those living with mental illness, which has become so common in recent discussions of gun violence. It is now a popular reaction, particularly from those who want to promote the widespread possession of guns, to say that mental health treatment should be expanded in order to “control” people with mental disorders. Enhancing the availability of mental health care is, of course, an important goal, but as Summer pointed out, such efforts would have little impact on the overall rate of violence, because people with serious mental illnesses actually commit only a very small percentage of violent crimes. Most violent crimes are committed by people without major mental illness.
Guns provide the most reliably fatal way of committing suicide. Whereas suicide attempts by overdosing on pills are not usually fatal (probably less than 15 % of the time) suicide with guns is almost always fatal (probably 85% of the time or more.) Many suicides are not planned in advance; often, suicide is an impulsive act. Having a gun readily available makes an impulsive suicide attempt much more likely to be fatal. Comparing the suicide rates in different states seems to bear this out: states with the highest suicide rates (e.g. Alaska, Montana, Wyoming) have almost three times as many suicides per 100,000 people, compared to low-suicide states like New York and New Jersey. In the high suicide states, as many as 60% of people keep guns at home, whereas in New York and New Jersey, relatively fewer people do (perhaps 12-18%).
The factors that determine the suicide rate are very complex. They certainly include the prevalence of mental illness, including PTSD; the prevalence of substance abuse; the degree of stigma toward mental illness, which can deter people from acknowledging that they need help; as well as the availability of mental health care for those who do seek it. But one hypothesis generated by considering the data quoted above would be this: that the lower availability of guns kept in the home tends to protect people in New York and New Jersey from the risk of death by impulsive suicide.
If we take the issue of suicide prevention seriously, it is abundantly clear that much of the heated debate about guns in the media and in Congress is irrelevant to suicide. Laws restricting the sale of semi-automatic rifles and large magazines would have no impact on the problem of suicide, since most gun suicides require only a single bullet. Some regulations might be helpful, for example, requirements for trigger locks or storage of weapons in locked cases. Even these measures, however, do not protect the person who has the key. And while many gun owners reassure themselves that they don’t have to worry about suicide, the fact is that no one knows whether they might be seriously depressed five years from now.
Changing our gun culture – for example, moderating the idea that guns are necessary everywhere for home defense – will continue to be a very long-term process. (One piece of good news is reflected in another, front page Sunday Times article this week: the rate at which people keep guns in their homes has in fact been decreasing gradually all across the country in recent decades.) In a way the problem is similar to the overall problem of stigma, because attitudes about the risks of guns in the home, like attitudes about the risks and dangers of mental illness, tend to change slowly in response to public education. For this reason, our continuing efforts at addressing these issues realistically and without stigmatizing those with mental illness are that much more important.
Howard Owens, MD Forensic Psychiatrist Board of Directors, Fountain House