B’more Clubhouse: Supporting Wellness through Community

Everybody needs to feel connected and have somewhere they belong to thrive. B’more Clubhouse supports individuals with mental illness by creating a sense of community to help empower members to lead meaningful and productive lives. The Clubhouse has been in Baltimore for 10 years and has served over 700 clubhouse members.

The Clubhouse takes a non-traditional approach to supporting people living with mental illness. Rather than focusing on mental illness, they focus on supporting health and wellness by helping members develop meaningful relationships, build community, and find purpose.

Feeling Like you Belong Starts with Meaningful Relationships

Meaningful relationships are essential for wellness; they are a key part of our sense of purpose, self-worth and belonging. Allan Sneed has spent decades caring for Dante, his younger brother with mental illness. Before they found the Clubhouse, Allan was concerned about Dante because he would spend most of his time at home doing nothing. Allan said, “he was really looking sad when there wasn’t anything to do.”

Allan brought Dante to the Clubhouse to give him an opportunity to engage with other people and develop relationships outside of his family. Since joining the Clubhouse Dante has been noticeably happier and more active. Allan said “he’s been talking more since he joined the Clubhouse. Suddenly he wants to try things he didn’t do before.”  Dante now has part-time employment and has moved out of his brother’s house into a supported housing facility.

Dante developed supportive relationships with members and staff that have helped him come out of his shell. He helps with a variety of things around the Clubhouse including office tasks and gardening. Deidra, a farmer who works with members in the Clubhouse community garden, saw a huge transformation in Dante, “at first, he wouldn’t speak or interact for months, but today he is eager to help when he can.”

The Power of Community

Feeling like part of a community contributes to health and wellness. Joe sought out the Clubhouse specifically because of their focus on building community. He felt one reason he was having trouble with his treatment was because he wasn’t getting enough social support.  Joe recognized that “at the Clubhouse your mental health diagnosis isn’t as important as the other things in your life. This perspective and support helped me learn to cope and manage my journey to recovery.” 

The Clubhouse community helped Joe connect with supportive people and get employment as a digitizer at the Johns Hopkins library. In addition to his job, Joe regularly helps out around the Clubhouse and participates in Clubhouse social gatherings. Joe said “Bmore Clubhouse is good at helping people reclaim pasts of their lives. It might not be just career-wise but also giving people a place to call their own for a little while.”

Finding Purpose with Passion

Exercise and healthy eating have always been passions for Tavone but he wasn’t sure how to bring these passions into his life.

When Tavone first came to the Clubhouse he was looking for something to do other than sitting at home watching TV. While he was originally looking for a place to go, he found a place to dive deep into his passion for health, nutrition and fitness and share it with others. He shares his passion by leading a wellness group with other Clubhouse members. Tavone said, “coming here has helped me feel confident and comfortable with myself. Everyone here treats me with respect.”