Fountain House uses the term “member” to reflect the voluntary, community-based nature of Fountain House. Using this term makes it clear that members are integral and active participants of the program. Fountain House exists for, by, and because of its members.
Why are Fountain House clients referred to as members?
Is Fountain House a self-help program?
We are a professional self-help program that encourages a partnership between our members and our expert staff. At any given point, Fountain House employs about twenty staff workers who have experienced major mental illness. We do not create special “consumer” jobs but rather hire people into our existing positions.
Do Fountain House members participate in all aspects of running the Clubhouse?
Yes. Members are involved in the intake and orientation of new members, housing placements, hiring of new staff, building maintenance, policy decisions, advocacy initiatives, meal preparation, program development, and service on the Board of Directors.
Is there a Fountain House in my community?
Fountain House is the model for more than 300 programs throughout the United States and around the world, and approximately 1,000 other programs claim some kinship to us. The International Center for Clubhouse Development, founded by Fountain House and a consortium of similar organizations, can provide information on a program in your community.
How many of your members have substance abuse problems or are homeless?
About 40% of our members have been homeless at one time. Nearly half are recovering from substance abuse problems. Fountain House provides Double Trouble meetings designed specifically for individuals with a dual diagnosis of mental illness and chemical abuse and makes a range of housing options available to its members.
Does Fountain House provide psychiatric treatment, including medication and therapy?
The therapy of Fountain House is our working community. While we do assist our members in securing the best available medical and psychiatric treatment, we choose to focus on the strengths and healthy attributes of our members and the normalization of their lives. As a result, we do not provide individual or group therapy or offer medication at Fountain House.
We do understand that close coordination between psychiatrists and general practitioners brings many benefits. In order to better serve members, we developed a special group practice of physicians located ten blocks from Fountain House at the Sidney Baer Center. The Baer Center serves about one-third to half of our membership.
What is a working community?
The Fountain House working community model is based on the belief that members are partners in their own recovery, rather than the passive recipients of treatment, and that meaningful work and relationships are integral to mental health.
Many people living with mental illness are alone in the larger society – either without adequate treatment or meeting individually with a case manager. At Fountain House, people living with mental illness, mental health professionals, and committed volunteers gather as a community. Together, they plan and administer every program and function of the organization, truly relying on each other to reach common objectives.
The inherent humanity, social inclusivity, personal empowerment, and innovation of this approach has inspired its replication the world over and has earned federal recognition in the US as an evidence-based practice. Success is measured through outcomes in social inclusion – such as jobs, schooling, housing, and wellness.
Its inspiration and cross cultural effectiveness come from the expert application of several core principles – the principles of personal choice, collaboration, and the need to be needed - principles that are fundamental to all human social activity and personal development.