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Fountain House (self help program)

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Founded  1948
People also search for  National Empowerment Center, Recovery International, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Fountain House is a professional self-help program, which started in New York City in the 1940s, operated by men and women recovering from major mental illness in collaboration with a professional staff.


History and current organisation

The Fountain House uses the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation - it was the first such program, established in New York City in 1949. In 1955 John Beard, a social worker from Michigan, was named Executive Director. He began involving unemployed members in helping him maintain the building.

There are now around 400 Clubhouses internationally. There are 10 Fountain Houses in Denmark, 8 in Norway and 11 in Sweden. The emphasis at Fountain House is on relationships, aiming for members to regain their productivity and self-confidence, resume their lives, and re-enter society. The clubhouse environment also aims to allows its members to learn self-advocacy, and fight the stigma that often separates them from their neighbors.

Fountain House's programs and partnerships are based on its units: education, employment, research, clerical, culinary, reception and membership, and horticulture. Each unit is "home base" for a number of members and staff who work together to develop and co-ordinate a particular activity. In each unit, as well, staff members provide community support for members, to ensure that they receive the benefits and services they need, from both Fountain House and from other sources. In 2005, Fountain House was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

50th anniversary

In 1999, film maker Torstein Blixfjord directed a short performance piece to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Fountain House organisation in New York City. A block of the city was closed down, and portraits of Fountainhouse members by photographer Charlie Gross were projected onto buildings from windows. Saxophonists then descended from different fire escapes, each playing compositions by Briggan Krauss. The compositions begin disparate and out of sync, but as the saxophonists came together and entered the building, the piece came together and became less melancholic, more uplifting. The composition was based on the loneliness of schizophrenia, and expressed the way in which Fountainhouse aims to helps its members by bringing them together into a community.

The performance lasted about 7 minutes and was attended by about 1000 people, some 600 of whom were Fountain House members and former members. Rudolph Giuliani, then Mayor of New York, was also in attendance.


Fountain House (self-help program) Wikipedia

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