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Public Invited To Learn About New Mental Health Initiative

Thursday evening residents in the Wasatch Back are invited to come learn about a program to help the mentally ill in the community obtain jobs.

Thursday’s community engagement meeting takes place at the Christian Center in Park City from 5:30 to 7:00 pm. Sally Jablon with Connect Summit County says the public is invited but there are some that might be particularly interested in the program.

“We especially need people who have family members who are adults with a history of mental illness themselves.” Jablon continued, “People who are interesting in volunteering to get it off the ground by June the first. We will also be looking for potential partners in the business community because the clubhouse does provide transitional employment for members to learn how to get up on time, get to work on time, be trained for certain skills. As well as potential donors, to just come understand what is a clubhouse? Why is it good for Summit County? And why do I want to be involved?”

The organization will be the 5th in Utah and one of over 300 worldwide. Clubhouse International allows adults with mental illness an opportunity to acquire gainful employment.

“The outcomes are to introduce or re-introduce into society people with a history of mental illness.” Jablon explained, “To help them get into the workforce or back into the workforce to be part of a community. The outcome has been in many cases to help them stay off the streets, to help them stay out of jail, but especially to have a quality of life that they haven’t had their whole lives”     

Summit County Mental Health officer Aaron Newman says that the project is a few years ahead of schedule thanks to a generous donor and the Christian Center’s willingness to loan space to the program.  Newman says the program looks to fill in a gap in services to those with mental illness.

“The gap is once you turn 18 and start entering those adult years there’s not a lot of services available to individuals such as this.” Newman said, “Nor is there safe areas, generally, for them to have socialization. That’s also a big part of the clubhouse. I love the phrase they use, it’s meant to be a launching pad and not a landing pad. It really helps give people those skills for independence. Part of that independence is developing social skills. In line with learning about catering, retail, we have a finance person who’s willing to help people learn how to do the accounting and run the books for the organization. Those are the skills that get them out to have employment that supports the independence but having those social skills and doing those social events with their peers at the clubhouse really helps elevate that.”

Jablon says that the cost of the program is mitigated in part by a low number of staff.

“As a startup we’re looking somewhere in the vicinity of $80,000-$100,000 in the first year.” Jablon continued, “After that it depends on what kind of services we can add each year. We need an executive director and a very small staff because the members who come in with a history of mental illness actually run the clubhouse. They do all the jobs within the clubhouse side-by-side with the staff.”   

Clubhouse International is open to those who are 18 and older, with a mental illness and having been referred to the clubhouse by a provider.

“Legal history has no bearing.” Jablon stated, “As one of the members told me at Alliance House, ‘We leave our history and our diagnosis at the door’. There is an executive director and there is a small staff and they do greet people everyday as they come in everyday, as they should. If there is an issue that seems to be occurring at any time that a member comes in the door, that person will be taken aside, and it will be determined whether or not that person has any danger to the community within or to him or herself, and then steps will be taken.”

Newman chimed in “A lot of what happens in that situation, we’re relying on the therapist or the person that’s made the recommendation to come to the clubhouse. They see where they’re at in their treatment and with their therapy. This is that good next step for them.”

That’s Sally Jablon and Aaron Newman with information for the new Clubhouse International. An informational meeting is taking place Thursday from 5:30 to 7:00 at the Christian Center. For more information you can visit Summit County Clubhouse dot com.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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