Mental Health Legislation Could Benefit Clubhouses

Posted on November 6, 2015 by Kenneth J. Dudek

For the past several years, legislators have discussed reforming federal mental health policy. Two pieces of proposed legislation that are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill have the potential to benefit clubhouses and ultimately save lives. While the acts differ slightly in certain areas, both represent much-needed reform of our mental health system and promise a brighter future for people living with serious mental illness.

Community-based mental health programs working with the seriously mentally ill like Fountain House believe the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 will increase support for the clubhouse model throughout the United States.   

We have witnessed the devastation caused by a lack of support for those with the most serious forms of mental illness. We know that the most cost-effective and evidence-based approach is three-legged, consisting of a psychiatrist trained in psychopharmacology; a primary care physician; and a supportive environment that provides opportunity. In addition to social supports, clubhouses like Magnolia House, Independence Center, and Fountain House provide access to a specialized group of psychiatrists and general practitioners at nearby clinics that function as health homes. 

Yet the clubhouse model remains seriously underfunded by mental health systems across the country. Costlier, unproven programs receive more attention and funds.  We support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act in calling for a shift in state and federal dollars to more adequately support community-based programs.  If Medicaid is to be the most immediate source of funds, we advocate for the use of a case rate methodology for clubhouse programs.  Fee-for-service structures and day rates create burdensome record keeping and billing systems which increase administrative costs.

We believe both the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Mental Health Reform Act of 2015 will advance much-needed reform of our mental health system, and ultimately result in increased funding for the clubhouse model which reduces hospitalizations and emergency room usage, incarceration and homelessness for people living with schizophrenia and bipolar diagnoses. 

Fountain House encourages our members and supporters to learn more about these important acts, which will strengthen the clubhouse movement, a model both acts recognize as evidence-based and worthy of further implementation across the country.

You can learn more about each act using the links below.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act

Mental Health Reform Act of 2015


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