Newsletter 2020

Released under the authority of the Board of Clubhouse Europe

Vision for the Future

Guido Valentini

To be elected as the new Clubhouse Europe Chair is to me, a great honour and an even greater responsibility. From my point of view, it is crucial from a moral perspective to work towards giving every person suffering from mental illness in Europe an opportunity to get support from an accredited Clubhouse Community. By Europe I mean all the 53 countries within it. In order to do
this we need to work towards increasing the ‘Visibility of the Clubhouse Model and European Clubhouses’ advocating at a high Ievel to as many stakeholders as possible in addition we also need to communicate and network more with all the existing Clubhouses in Euorpe to create opportunities to help Clubhouse produce high quality daily work, circulate good ideas and share best practices.

Over the last few years Clubhouse Europe has become more ‘visible’ and has developed new partnerships with strategic entities such as Mental Health Europe (MHE) and European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) as well as the European Branch of the World Health Organization — WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe). Going forward it is important to consolidate these partnerships and establish new ones as well as informing other European policy makers, European bodies and organizations in the field of mental health about the cost effectiveness and evidence-based research available to support the efficacy of the Clubhouse Model. We would also like to invite all the Clubhouses in Europe to get involved as active members of Clubhouse Europe
so that we can build a stronger network, increase our partnerships, and create innovative opportunities for all existing and potential Clubhouses in Europe.

To be successful in Europe 53,* Clubhouse Europe needs to act as an Official European Association of
Clubhouses, representing the Clubhouses in Europe, in order to gain access to important European organizations, authorities, conferences, EU funds and other relevant opportunities. In this way rather than working as a worldwide entity such as Clubhouse International we can focus Vision for the Future and specialize on the European 53 area and avail ourselves of opportunities which are only available in and for our region. The more Clubhouses and Clubhouse Coalitions that become a Clubhouse Europe member the louder (and more representative) our voice will be.

here are four general propositions which map the
way forward:

  • Strategic Communication and improvement of Clubhouse Europe’s social media
  • Maintaining and creating new partnerships in the European 53* area
  • Fundraising activities to help European Clubhouses to grow and give them stability
  • Promote Clubhouse Europe services to members sharing useful information, best practices and helping to connect to each other.

*The WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) is one of WHO’s six regional offices around the world. It serves the WHO European Region, which comprises 53 countries, covering a vast geographical region from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans.

Although these are ambitious goals, Clubhouse Europe has the capacity to realize them. In the ancient Latin language there is a saying that expresses goodwill for the future: “ad maiora”; it means “towards greater things”. Our work will be to reach all the greater things that we are aiming for, all of the goals we set, all the visibility we deserve and to create opportunities for the ones that don’t know about the Clubhouse Model yet, but are in need of it.

Guido Valentini

Writer is new Chair of the Board of Clubhouse Europe and
Director of Club Itaca Roma.

Clubhouse Europe Advocacy Group:

Make Clubhouses More Visible

Petra Niewulaat

The Advocacy group, founded in 2018, initially had only one goal: make the Clubhouses more visible in Europe.

Alot has happened since then. Clubhouse Europe has attended many conferences, meetings and conventions. During these occasions there has been regular opportunity to present and explain the Clubhouse Model.

As stated in the previous Newsletter, this has led to many new relationships and partnerships World Health Organization (WHO), World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR), European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), Mental Health Europe and World Psychiatric Association (WPA) in 2019. Something to be very proud of.

For 2020, the Advocacy group planned to further strengthen and consolidate these relationships and to look for strategic partners in order to realize concrete collaborative projects.

Needless to say, Covid-19 has caused conferences in Europe to be either canceled or online. Meeting each other and useful networking during coffee breaks, lunches and dinners during conferences was therefore not possible. The Advocacy group therefore had to postpone many of its activities and couldn’t fulfill its assignment properly.

Clubhouses, on the other hand, have shown very well during the Covid-19 pandemic the strength of the strong community-spirit that Clubhouses have. It has turned out that with a lot of creativity, commitment and perseverance we have been able to continue to involve and support the members despite all the measures due to Covid-19.

In the spring-edition of the Newsletter of the WAPR both Peppi Laine and Pauli Löija, representing the Finnish Clubhouse community, reported on Clubhouses during the pandemic. They vividly describe how quicky the Clubhouse community developed an effective on line program and service.

During the online conference of EUCOMS, a Clubhouse from Norway gave a presentation on how the Clubhouse works and how strong the community of members is, also during Covid 19.

Clubhouse Europe has also participated online during the annual meetings of MHE and WHO. Covid-19
often set the agenda there too. Especially for people with psychological problems, the lockdown measures can lead to even more isolation and depression. Although a lot of support and activities is offered online, it is not possible for everyone to access this because they do not have digital resources or do not know how to use them.

Digital exclusion must therefore also be a theme for the future for the Clubhouse movement!

Petra Niewulaat

Writer is director of the Board of Clubhouse Europe Advocacy Group and Clubhouse Amsterdam De Waterheuvel

Clubhouse Europe Presents its New Board

At the general meeting held on 19th November 2020, the new Board was elected for the period 2020 until the end of 2022, when the next board will be elected at the two yearly General Meeting.

Re-elected members are:

  • Emily Adamberry Olivero is the director of the Clubhouse Gibraltar and has been a member of the Board of Clubhouse Europe since 2014.
  • Esko Hänninen is one of the “Founding Fathers” of Clubhouse Europe and member of the Board from the very beginning. Esko is also a chair of the Board of the Finnish Clubhouse Coalition.
  • Joel Corcoran is the Director of Clubhouse International and is a member of the Board of Clubhouse Europe from the very beginning.

We would like to welcome new members:

  • Nina Bach already participated in the present Board as an adviser. Nina is an active Clubhouse member and a member of the Board of Clubhouse Rygge in Norway.
  • Jonah Jehoshua Jürgen Bogle is an active Clubhouse member and board member of Klubbhuset Peleran in Mariehamn Finland/Aland Islands.
  • Cindy Hamersma is a Clubhouse member and a member of the Board of Clubhouse De Waterheuvel in Amsterdam. Cindy is also a member of the Faculty of Clubhouse International.
  • Guido Valentini is the Director of the Clubhouse Itaca in Rome. He was the Chair of the Advocacy Group of Clubhouse Europe. Guido is the new Chair of Clubhouse Europe.

We would like to thank outgoing members:

  • Pauli Löija, was a Member of the Clubhouse Europe Board since 2014 and since 2016 Deputy Chair until now when he stood down. He is a Finn living in Helsinki, capital of Finland. He has been working in many different kinds of jobs until his illness became too difficult to handle in 2006. He has been a member of the Helsingin Klubitalo (Helsinki Clubhouse) since April 2007, where for a couple of years he was also a member of the board. He is also a member in the Faculty of Clubhouse International and has done several accreditations, mainly in the Nordic countries. During the last few years Pauli has provided great support by coordinating and producing the Clubhouse Europe Newsletter, and helping to disseminate the Clubhouse Model.
  • Wander Reitsma was the Chair of Clubhouse Europe from 2014 till 2020. He was strongly involved in the founding of the Association and was a member of the Board from the very start in 2011. His commitment with the Clubhouse Model started in 2008 as director of the Clubhouse in Amsterdam, ‘De Waterheuvel’. He considered this directorship as the crown of his working life. He has worked as a psychiatric nurse, professional bargainer for different unions in the health and non-profit sector, including the public services. He also operated as an independent manager. He is a member of the Clubhouse Advisory Council of Clubhouse International and is affiliated with Fountain House, New York e.g. as a member of the training team of the Leadership Training for the leadership of Clubhouses in Europe. After his resignation as director of De Waterheuvel in 2016 he and his wife Zwanette travel around a lot. They live in a small lockkeeper’s house (built in 1850) at a canal in a small village in the neighborhood of Amsterdam. They have four grown up children, two adorable granddaughters and two dogs.

Emily Adamberry Olivero, MBE

Cindy Hamersma
Clubhouse Model was the Right Fit for Me

Cindy Hamersmaa

My name is Cindy Hamersma and I am happy to say that I just got elected as a board member of Clubhouse Europe. A little bit about myself…

I am a single mom living together with my 13 year old daughter in Amsterdam. I work as a mental health professional and as an expert by experience at a big mental healthcare organisation. I started my career in the psychiatry 17 years ago, as a patient and a client in Amsterdam where I have been treated and diagnosed by many different organisations, doctors and therapists to get rid of or reduce the symptoms of my mental illnesses. After a psychoses and an admission in a psychiatric hospital a peer introduced me to Clubhouse de Waterheuvel, this was the place where I got a whole new perspective on mental illness and the road of recovery started here for me.

About 10 years ago I started as a member at Clubhouse de Waterheuvel. It turned out that the Clubhouse Model was the right fit for me. It gave me exactly enough space to grow at the right
moments. And it helped me through rough moments when life and my mental illness dragged me
down. What I like most about the Clubhouse is that you can always be yourself in every state of mind and that there are always possibilities to develop yourself. Because the Model reaches further then the local Clubhouse I was in the lucky position to learn and work on a National and International scale. De Waterheuvel was always there to support me and involved me in many and diverse projects such as:

The Board of De Waterheuvel, The Clubhouse International Faculty, Staff member, Participation Coach, Member of the Leadership Training team, Presenter at Conferences, Advisory Counsellor from a member/client perspective at governments and universities and many more. These are all beautiful accomplishments, but the most important and challenging project of all is staying in alance and being stable every day.

From the moment I started working with the Clubhouse Model I started working with improving the quality of my life. I hope by sharing my personal experience together with my working and textbook knowledge I can bring something extra to the table, a real life example that the Clubhouse Model works, and an example that the Clubhouse Model can bring you anywhere you want.

Cindy Hamersma

Writer is a new member of the Board of the Clubhouse Europe
from de Waterheuvel, Amsterdam Clubhouse, the Netherlands.

Jonah Bogle
I Want to Give Back What I have Received

Jonah Bogle

Hi, my name is Jonah Bogle and I am 39 years old. I am a member of Klubbhuset Pelaren on the Åland Islands (which belongs to Finland, and is Swedish speaking) since Spring 2018. I am so happy that I found Klubbhuset Pelaren and that I am part of the growing Clubhouse World. In 2019 I became a Board Member of Klubbhuset Pelaren, I started to train as a peer support specialist and participated in the Clubhouse International Conference in Lillestrøm in Norway.

I was fascinated by how international the Clubhouse movement was and I initiated a standard discussion exchange with Fountain House, New York. We eventually got involved in the digi-inclusion project of the Northern Countries and their Clubhouses. Since then I have mostly coordinated the international exchange with other houses and countries in our Clubhouse.

The most important thing in a Clubhouse is the work ordered day, because it has the power with its side by side working scheme and its diversity in meaningful tasks that we feel, we belong and forget the darkness that can border us from time to time. Also, the internationality I find important, to feel we are part of something bigger and meaningful, works 100%, and it can make us feel better.

Covid-19 has changed the world and made us grow together even more, at least in the Clubhouse world. We were creative with technology to get in touch with each other. Our relationship to each other is important and we want to stay in touch and say: We are not alone! For me it is important to give back to this organisation, that is why I have now got involved in the Board of Clubhouse Europe and I will participate in the first virtual Faculty training for Clubhouse International.

Jonah Bogle

Writer is a new member of the Board of the Clubhouse
Europe from Klubbhuset Pelaren, Ålands Clubhouse, Finland.

Hope and Perspective

Wander Reitsma

Soon after my appointment as director of Clubhouse De Waterheuvel in 2008, I fell under the spell of the magic of the Clubhouse Model. Never before had I met so many people with psychiatric problems who found their way (back) to a dignified existence in society in all its aspects. This was the main reason – I started to actively promote the fantastic Clubhouse Model both nationally and
internationally. For the past 10 years I have been able to do this with great enthusiasm on the board of Clubhouse Europe.

For me it was incomprehensible and unacceptable that the Clubhouse Model had not yet led to a breakthrough in the world. For decades the number of Clubhouses has fluctuated around 300 communities. Clubhouses withdraw and new ones are added, but we don’t see any
real growth. What is the reason for this? The most heard explanation is the invisibility of the Model. It is sometimes called “the world’s best kept secret”.

Afew years ago, the Board of Clubhouse International further tightened the quality requirements for Clubhouses by making accreditation a condition for Clubhouse International’s acceptance as a Clubhouse. The main motive for this was that guaranteed high quality would distinguish us, which would accelerate the growth of the number of Clubhouses. Unfortunately, this expectation did not materialize. The percentage of accredited Clubhouses versus non-accredited Clubhouses is increasing, but the total amount remains more or less the same. Apparently a stricter accreditation does not lead to growth.

Making Clubhouses and the model more visible – an important focal point of Clubhouse Europe in recent years – did not lead to growth either. Certainly, we do command respect and here and there we see more support at a higher level in the administration of a country. This usually leads to a more important position of the model as is the case in Finland and Norway. We are mentioned, praised and have even received prestigious awards. We became more visible. Unfortunately, somehow the Clubhouse Model seems not to be attractive enough to implement it on a large scale.

Ithink we need to formulate a new strategy for the growth of clubhouses in the world. We need to work out what we should do next ”to realize a world where people with mental illness recover and can be an integral part of society.”1

We need a strategy that is no longer based on the growth of Clubhouses themselves or the replication of the Clubhouse Model. Our focus should be on sharing our experience and expertise on creating and maintaining communities for people suffering from mental illness. Supporting other parties advocating mental health reforms, allowing them to develop mental health services
on their own terms. This way we leave behind the sectarian image that sticks to us and gets in our way. We also shed off the imperative character that our way of organizing a Clubhouse community entails on the basis of the standards and the accreditation.

We will become knowledgeable consultants on how to realize communities for people with lived experience.

Does this mean that at the end of my Clubhouse career, I have come to the conclusion that it was all useless?

On the contrary. I still believe in the magic of the Clubhouse as fervently as I did when I started this
job, twelve years ago. But our approach, knowledge and experience must be made available to all those millions who suffer daily from their psychiatric problems and its consequences and not be limited to the members of the current 300 Clubhouses. To realize this new strategy we desperately need the existing Clubhouses to act as a resource to fuel this new international advisory practice.

I ended my speech with a fantasy that I have. The fantasy is about my visit to the Museum of Psychiatry in the year 2121, one hundred years from now. It is a large building with a separate pavilion dedicated to community based recovery (CBR). In the hall is a sign with a map. I see that all parts of the building have a name. These are all names that I know so well and have a special meaning for me: the hall is called “Pauli Löija Hall”, I see the “Joel Corcoran Corridor”, the “Ken Dudek Wing” and many, many other names of all those fantastic people from the Clubhouse world who have enriched my life so much.2 I end up in a room full of tables with chairs and computer
screens. On one table my name is mentioned on a copper plate: “Wander Reitsma 1952–2047” (Fortunately I still have plenty of time!). And I am going to sit on a chair, labelled “Kinga Jedrzejczak” and touch a screen labelled “Petra Nieuwlaat”. An article appears entitled “History of
the Clubhouse Movement 1948 to 2048”. I quickly read through the article and read about the tremendous impact the Clubhouse Model has had on the development of the tens of thousands of so-called “Society Development Centers” world-wide run by or with people with a psychiatric vulnerability. The last classic Clubhouse to close was the “Russia House” in Moscow.

And then I realize that I have been part of that fantastic Clubhouse movement! A wave of gratitude and pride passes through me. Please, let that fantasy become reality! I wish you all the strength, wisdom and luck to realize that!

Wander Reitsma

Writer is former Chair of Clubhouse Europe

1Vision of Clubhouse International as mentioned on the website.

2Besides these names I see the “John Beard Restaurant”, the “Björn Asplund Winery”, the “Vera Hahn and Jennifer Miller Konditorei”, the “Robby Vorspan Library”, the “Guido Valentini Theater” with the “Kevin Barnas Stage” and the “Kees Apeldoorn Balcony”, the “Cyrus Napolitano Garden” with
the “Colleen MacKay Pond”, the “Alan Doyle Center for Social Practice”, the “Lori d’Angelo Center” with the “Francesca Pernice Research Unit”, the “Afzal Javed Panorama”, the “Jack Yatsko Corner”, the “Gunilla Byström Office for Financial Affairs”, “Ralph Aquila Top Care Desk”, “Esko Hänninen Debating Club”, “Anita Brix Room”, the “Beatrice Bergamasco Palazzo”, the “Criss Habal Floor”, the “Martin Dives Cinema”, the “Ashwin Vasan Fire Escape”, the “Emily Adamberry Olivero Press Room” , the “Jeff Aron Award Room” , the “Alena Stanislauchyk Video Parlor” and the “Michiel de Leeuw Auditorium” and many, many other names of people I met during my exciting Clubhouse world experience.

The need is:
Members’ voice!

Welcome to Helsinki Clubhouse, Finland, where I have been a member since 2007, over 13 years ago. My name is Pauli Löija and I have a bipolar disorder – as well as some other serious diseases.

When I first came to the Helsinki Clubhouse, I was totally incapacitated because of my mental health
problems. I had to stop regular work and I thought that every door ahead of me would be closed. At first that’s how it looked, but already in 2009 I had an opportunity to participate in the Clubhouse International World seminar in Florida and there I gave a speech in one of the plenaries. I noticed that Clubhouse had given me a huge opportunity and could provide even more opportunities. I
was asked to join the Board of the European Partnership for Clubhouse Development (EPCD) which later changed its name to Clubhouse Europe and of which I am still a Board member. I don’t even know how many years.

I have also been involved in Clubhouse International work of which I recall two plenary speeches in Clubhouse International Seminars and also in a couple of workshops. Memorable big moments have been participation in the WHO mental health GAP -conferences in Geneva together with the chair of the Clubhouse Europe Board, Wander Reitsma, where I could talk about the Clubhouse Model to total strangers, and where I noticed very quickly, that I was the only ’Expert by Experience’,
the only person who had experienced mental illness.

In too many conferences, the so called Specialists are talking about mental illnesses to other specialists, civil servants and Politicians while the voice of ’Experts by Experience’ is totally missing. The general belief is that doctors and other civil servants are the best experts to talk about mental illnesses. I think the background of this kind of thinking is the assumption that people with mental ill

ness are too weak or even too stupid to talk about the
subject that they are themselves suffering from. The
worst thing about all this is that while specialists are talking among themselves, people with mental illnesses, do not hear what they are saying nor are they given an opportunity to contribute.

Pauli Löija spoke in the 16th
European Clubhouse
Conference about the need to
have ‘Experts by Experience’ in
Clubhouse’s European and
International Policies and in
meetings with Governments,
politicians and other major

I ’m glad about the Clubhouse Model, because it takes people with mental illness into consideration and includes their input. We are not just people with mental illnesses; we work side by side on an equal basis with professionals and Clubhouse staff. We are able to choose the way we use the Clubhouse and the staff with whom we work, giving us the possibility to engage in meaningful work in areas that interest us.

The ideology of Clubhouses is based on equality. Also – at least here in Finland – Clubhouse members are deciding on Clubhouse work together with professionals, civil servants and staff. We are also in the process of deciding Clubhouse work resources. For example I have had an opportunity to talk to Finnish parliamentarians in the Finnish Parliament about Clubhouses and the Clubhouse Model together with our Clubhouse director. There were also other associations talking about their subjects to parliamentarians, but I was the only ’Expert by Experience’.

When our European Clubhouse network expands, every new Clubhouse needs support from more
experienced Clubhouses and, of course, from Clubhouse Europe too. We need to remind politicians in every country about Clubhouse Model’s effectiveness in the rehabilitation of people with mental health problems. ’Experts by Experience, people with history of mental illness, are in a key position for that work. Who knows better, what it is like to live with mental health problems, than people with mental illness themselves? Who knows better how the Clubhouse Model has been instrumental and the key to their rehabilitation than those who have experienced it. That voice needs to be heard more at European and International Clubhouse Policy level.

We need to be more aware of the value of sending members, ’Experts by Experience’ to important meetings where the resources for Clubhouse work are being decided. We need to demonstrate the positive impact that Clubhouses have in Conferences, by providing real cases, real living people, and testimonials on how Clubhouse has helped them with their mental health problems. By providing opportunities and openness to members’ voices in Clubhouses International and foreign policy it’s the only way to show, how Clubhouses have worked and succeeded. Clubhouse staff and Board of Directors need to be more aware of the value and impact of the members voice in external and High-level meetings and should be encouraging members to participate in these meetings. It is not enough that members only speak to other Clubhouse members and staff in local and international Clubhouse seminars. We need to take the voice of the ’Experts by Experience’, the Clubhouse members themselves to all Stakeholders meetings far and wide and at all levels. A member’s testimony has always been the most powerful voice – we must not forget this.

Well, it’s been over 13 years! Why such a long time? What has Clubhouse given to me during all these years? Not only my own Clubhouse, but Clubhouse Europe and Clubhouse International, too. Empowerment and rehabilitation: Yes! Transitional Employment: Yes! Support to independent part time work: Yes! Big steps and great progress in my way of living during these years. And also, last but not least, all the positions of responsibility at the Board of Clubhouse Europe and the Clubhouse International Faculty. I have also had some opportunities to be an example of a Clubhouse member, when Clubhouses has implemented its foreign policy.

After all these many years in the Board of Clubhouse Europe and Clubhouse International Faculty my message to all of you, members, staff, civil servants and members of board of directors is: be proud of what we have in our hands. It is a piece of gold. And I mean this about the Clubhouse Model. Be proud of the Clubhouse members who actually create Clubhouses and their success. Every member in the Clubhouse is a success story in their own right.

I have tried to do my best in this area. I feel I have succeeded only a little in this area. But now it is time for me to take a step back. In the beginning I mentioned, that I also have some other serious illnesses, too. Serious cancer has lowered my condition. But at the same time, I’m glad that there are some new members who are interested in joining the Board of Clubhouse Europe, new member voices for the European and International field. Let’s wish all the best to them and also to all the members in European Clubhouses.

Pauli Löija

This speech was held in the 16th European Clubhouse Conference. Speaker has been a long time member in the
Board of Clubhouse Europe, its Deputy Chair and is member of the Clubhouse International Faculty.

16th European Clubhouse Conference
a Huge Success

Congratulations to Members, Staff and the coordinator, Guido Valentini and the rest of the team at Club Itaca in Italy as well as Clubhouse Europe and Clubhouse International and everybody else who helped to organize the first virtual European Clubhouse Conference.

When Guido and the team from Rome accepted the responsibility of hosting this conference, little did they know about Covid-19 and what knock on effects it was going to have in Italy and on the conference itself. Chapeau to them all who never lost sight or faith in their mission and in true Clubhouse style adapted everything they needed to do in accordance with what was feasible
and possible to achieve a resounding and seamless conference.

Moreover as a bonus more Clubhouse members have been able to view the conference from the comfort of their own Clubhouse and with their Clubhouse buddies. Well done to all concerned.

Emily Adamberry Olivero, MBE


European Clubhouse Conference: Held Virtualy

The European Clubhouse Conferences are the most important moments at a European level for all the Centres that apply the Clubhouse Model. The European Regional Conference is held every two years and the 16th European Clubhouse Conference took place on 18th November 2020.

These Conferences are the best opportunity for members and staff from different places to meet, share knowledge and good practices, and to be able to contact and get to know each other in person. Attendance is usually around 300 participants coming mainly from the central and northern European countries where the Clubhouses are widely present and also from further afield. This international audience guarantees great dynamism in discussions and workshops.

The 16th European Clubhouse Conference, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was, for the first time ever, held completely in a fully digital and virtual mode. This required maximum commitment and important technical support in web and social communication which was crucial. This was a massive change and a very unusual situation to manage. Nevertheless despite the challenges, in the end, it was a great success. This virtual mode provided the opportunity for the whole community to be involved and allowed more participants to connect and benefit from the conference without travelling.

In this conference around 350 participants attended, connecting from many different European countries and from abroad like Belarus, Russia, Israel, United States, Canada, Argentina, and Pakistan which made it a real International symposium.

The Conference was opened by Mr. Oliviero Pesce, President of Progetto Itaca Roma, and by Mrs. Beatrice Bergamasco, of Progetto Itaca Foundation, the hospice agency that supports the Clubhouses in Italy. This was followed by the speeches of the outgoing Clubhouse Europe Chair Wander Reitsma, the Clubhouse International President Mr. Nicholas Ratut, and Joel Corcoran, the Executive Director of Clubhouse International. The Conference housekeeping and moderation has been done by Aminda Leigh, a journalist friend of Club Itaca Roma, the Clubhouse in charge of the Conference organization.

Roberta, Caterina and Francesco, Club Itaca Roma members, brought a ‘breath of fresh air’ to the audience with their testimonies and also Pauli Löija as a member ‘expert by experience’ and a Clubhouse Europe Board Member, made a significant speech, talking about his long and wide experiences in the Clubhouse Movement. In particular, Pauli encouraged everyone to allow more space and opportunities for members with experience of mental illness to be encouraged to tell their stories especially to major stakeholders.

The 16th edition has been a conference marked by important changes and innovations. It marked the end of a decade 2010–2020 and the starting of a new one 2020–2030 which can be seen as a real turning point towards the future. What are the Clubhouse Europe’s future goals and how they can be achieved? Significant questions to answer and this time, other voices were also invited to bring their opinion. In the previous European Clubhouse Conference editions, most panelists came from the Clubhouse world. This time some of the panelists involved came from the International enterprises sector and from other Associations, to contribute their experiences and points of view.

For the first time, at a European Clubhouse Conference, there were panelists that had been invited from other bodies involved in a mental health environment such as Dr. Afzal Javed, President of the World Psychiatric Association, and Mr. Jan Berndsen, President of the Mental Health Europe. Dr. Javed spoke about Fountain House Lahore, which had been present in Pakistan for almost forty years. Mr. Berndsen focused on how Clubhouse Europe was highly valued as a partner of Mental ealth Europe Association. Their participation was very important and brought a significant added value to the Session dedicated to “Mental Health Scenarios”.

This year, the Clubhouse Europe movement opened the doors and welcomed personalities from the world of private enterprises too. At the “Work, Digitalization and Innovation” Session, panelists from Accenture, Falck Renewables, and SPB Insurance, spoke about the Job Stations project: assisted smart working centers for the work inclusion of people with mental health stories. This best practice is realized together with members and staff from the Club Itaca Milano and the Club Itaca Roma and could be replicated anywhere else in Europe.

All those highlights were indeed important, but the most significant moment of the 16th European Clubhouse Conference was, probably, the farewell of Wander Reitsma, Chair of the Clubhouse Europe Board for twelve years. Wander has been a very popular president on an international level and has done sterling work in the development and restructuring of Clubhouse Europe. He will nevertheless continue to support Clubhouse Europe in the future by giving his knowledge and advice to the new Chair Guido Valentini. The ”old guard” will still be a light in the European Movement helping throughout the new post-pandemic era.

Digital has been a ”forced” added value to the 16th European Clubhouse Conference. But, now it can be assumed that broadcasting in live audio and video streaming will also be kept in future editions, as it has allowed many more people to participate remotely from the entire circuit of worldwide Clubhouses.

All the information concerning the 16th European Clubhouse Conference are available online in the conference website:

Guido Valentini — new Chair of the Clubhouse Europe

Recovery Capital

Recently, the recovery orientation and capital have been seen as central mental health policy focus areas. The international mental health policy development for the Fountain House – Clubhouse Model has been since 1940’s one of the initiators of this approach.

The recovery capital has been defined as the sum total of personal, social and community resources that someone can call on to aid their personal recovery. This definition is near to the concepts of recovery-orientation and resource-centred personal support approach.

The focus on recovery means that psychiatric treatment outcomes should be defined in terms of social outcomes, like personal progress on the general recovery, and education and employment pathways towards social inclusion, rather than in terms of historical focus on mental ill-health and hospital treatment.

What is the recovery approach?

The concept of recovery has its origins rooted in the early mental health self-help and mutual aid groups; e.g. “We Are Not Alone” in 1940’s in New York USA, that was basis for the development of psychosocial Fountain House – Clubhouse Model; and Alcoholics Anonymous mutual aid groups. More recently it has been more strongly associated with the mental health discourse. The recovery-approach is consisting of different components related to the personal, social and community capitals.

Recently, e.g. social workers in the Republic of Belarus have opposed this point of view and are thinking that recovery capital most likely includes the same elements than the concepts of personal, social and community resources of and for a person´s recovery. They are right, because the concept of capital includes all kinds of resources that are based on the economical or societal, psychological and human abilities.

Personal recovery capital and resources


Safe and secure accommodation is a key element of personal recovery capital and without it individuals are more likely to be part of different kinds of psychosocial and behavioural problem networks.

Physical and mental health

Physical and mental health can lead individuals to being trapped in the sub-systems with several psychosocial problems. This is connected with a wider understanding of human beings as “bio-psycho-social” entities, that is not yet generally approved in the mental health field.

Purposeful activity: Education, training and employment

The statistical link between unemployment and mental ill-health and/or drug use is clear. This means the need for more effective education and employment policy.

Social recovery capital and resources

Peer support

Peer support is significant at all levels of recovery. As an umbrella term, peer support includes a variety of activities outlined below.

  • Peer mentoring: a one-to-one relationship in which one individual supports another in goal setting within a defined timeframe
  • Befriending / buddying / listening: a less formal social relationship between two or more individuals that can last over a longer timeframe
  • Advocacy: taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests, and obtain services they need
  • Mediation: dispute resolution between two individuals or an individual and a service
  • Peer advice: offering advice based on lived experience
  • Education and training: developing individuals’ knowledge and skills base through education and training.

Peer support can be formal and informal and different elements of this support are needed at different points of an individual’s journey.

Friends and Family

Friends and Family can be both negative or positive influences on an individual’s recovery. The friends‘ and family´s positive support increases social capital that helps facilitate the recovery process.

Community recovery capital and resources

Stigmatisation and negative labelling

These labels are value driven and loaded with judgements that are rooted in historical ideas and beliefs. That´s why a special campaign is needed to tackle these both negative attitudes.

Community resources

This includes transport links, community activities, public spaces as well as treatment and support services, and often have costs attached.

Local Recovery Community

Recovery Communities put a face on recovery, sharing stories of hope, and promoting recovery. The recovery capital exists on a continuum with both positive and negative sides where positive elements strengthen and support a person’s recovery and negative elements impede it.


Esko Hänninen
  • The evidence-based Fountain House – Clubhouse Model should be included in the future European mental health policy recommendations
  • The “Clubhouse Europe” should strengthen its position as a European NGO for supporting the social inclusion of people with any kinds of psychosocial problems
  • The European NGO “Clubhouse Europe” should continue its networking with influential other MH associations in Europe
  • On annual basis, “Clubhouse Europe” should be at present & a participant in most important European and International Conferences in the mental health field.

Main source:

Esko Hänninen

Writer has been a member of the Board of Clubhouse Europe since beginning and he is also Chair of the Board of
the Finnish Clubhouse Coalition

Covid 19
a Friend or Foe?

The year 2020 has actually gone at a furious pace for me. At the same time it has been a tough and tiring year. Not just for me, but for the whole world.

Iremember well when it started in Christmas 2019. The virus that came in from China. I was naive and was really annoyed by the media about this new ‘flu’ virus. So I was like; why this fuss, several thousand people die every year from the common flu… now this virus is so “dangerous”! It took a while before I even understood the seriousness.

I have never been afraid for my own health. I get sick very rarely. People around me can be knocked out like flies by other illnesses. Probably it might be that I have already been infected. When the year 2020 came, this virus also came closer to Norway. In February, I think it was that the first that were infected were discovered in Norway. I took this at the time with extreme calmness. I had other bigger things to be afraid and nervous about. I had actually been granted treatment for my eating disorder from 2nd March 2020 at a treatment center. Something I really did not want to do, but knew I really needed. That is when Norway also started to get cases of Covid-19.

During the first week in hospital I started to adapt. At the same time, the threat of infection from Covid-19 in Norway was increasing. More and more places were being closed down, and there were stricter infection control rules. This resulted in my planned treatment being terminated. I was discharged and sent home to nothing really. This was my first encounter with the consequences of Covid-19. I was filled with incredible self-pity; I really really needed this treatment. On the way home I met the second consequence of Covid-19. It was almost a completely empty train, empty bus, empty plane, and the strangest thing was, a virtually dead airport. It was such a strange feeling to be at an airport without the hustle and bustle. At home I discover the third consequence for me of Covid-19. The Clubhouse has been physically closed.

At first it was actually a little liberating to be “home alone”. The only commitment I had was, when I would shop for my parents and my grandpa, otherwise I was free. I was not isolated because I was exercising many hours outdoors every day and I enjoyed those hours out in the fresh air.

At home, I now had time to do the renovations and I also worked at home with digital projects, together with Fontenehuset Rygge, but now I could work on it whenever I wanted. I could buzz in my own little bubble and no disturbance. But it did not take long before everything turned around. My own illness took its own course. Obsessions and compulsive behavior increased. The depression and the meaning of life became darker. I went crazy trying to avoid becoming a wandering infection bomb. There was no one close enough to me who could help me avoid going down the wrong path that I had begun to stray into.

I pretended I was eager and happy. Eventually, Fontenehuset Rygge and the rest of Norway carefully open up. The Clubhouse was a good support and they were constantly in contact with me, and encouraged me to come by. They didn’t have full opening hours yet, but a few hours every day as a start. But I couldn’t manage it. I was also very concerned that there were other members who needed the Clubhouse more than me now. The members who were most isolated and needed socialization should be given the opportunity first. There were restrictions on how many members could come to the Clubhouse every day.

The truth is that I was now deeply entangled in my own ‘spider’s web’. I cannot get out of the web. I was ruled by compulsion, duties, a bad conscience and a darkness that constantly suffocated me more and more… Eventually I yielded and ended up being admitted into a psychiatric hospital. It was my parents who noticed the danger signals and called the GP, and suddenly I was hospitalized.

It became a kind of long-awaited “vacation”.and the biggest demands on myself. No one comforted me, touched me or showed me the care I really needed because Covid-19 required sterile conditions. I have to thank Fontenehuset Rygge. They drove me to the hospital, put together what they could, supported me, visited me and wanted to help me as best they could, to make everyday life easier when I came home again.

After the hospitalization, things got a little easier. I made good action plans with the Clubhouse to help keep me on my feet. But the eating disorder had taken a stronger grip on me. I didn’t use the Clubhouse as fully as I should have. My body and mind were tired. It was difficult to get started with training and it had to be done before I could start the day. The time didn’t stop, it just trudged along.

Eventually I started a little routine again. I still had a lot of compulsions, but I managed the days better and went more often to the Clubhouse. But then came a new wave of Covid-19.

At the same time, the municipality was in big debt and new budget negotiations were underway for the year 2021. The Council’s proposal was, among other things, to refuse money to Fontenehuset Rygge. So it meant fighting Covid-19 with one hand, and fighting for the Clubhouse with the other hand. I was completely exhausted before this, so it did not exactly help meto get that message as well.

I was helping as much as I could to persuade the politicians to understand all the benefits of having Fontenehuset Rygge. We fought and we won. Fortunately, the politicians in our municipality knew and understood how much Fontenehuset Rygge gives to our municipality, and how much money they would lose by closing. This was not just exhausting for me. All of us, members and employees got involved and we stood together and got through it as a team.

Today I take one day at a time. I still go crazy with all the infection control, but I follow them. My body and head are tired. But I persevere as best I can. I was at the Clubhouse almost every day, and had become more confident in the infection control I do there. But I feel it is difficult too, tiring. But I am incredibly happy that I have and have had Fontenehuset Rygge in the background. I thank them. Without them, I probably would not have been able to survive all this alone. They turned on the little light you need on the darkest days and give you the courage to endure things a little longer.

One sees both positive and negative effects of Covid-19 in Norway and would now believe that it is quite similar in all countries. The positive effects are, among other things, that families are forced to be more together as a family. Pollution went down and other diseases went down. People saw each
other more through social media and took more care of each other digitally and helped each other more including those who were isolated. Many digital solutions that were on hold had been launched live. People did more volunteer work.

But the positive effects were so small compared to the threat Covid-19 posed. The negative effects were even greater. That list was long, too long. So the positive effects couldn’t compare at all to the negative effects. More people had become and were more isolated and had less social interaction and real closeness. There was more loneliness. Many people lost their jobs. More mental ailments occurred both in healthy people and those who already struggled with mental illness to name but a few. Not least there was less help available from municipal mental health services.

Fontenehuset Rygge took precautions before there was an increase in infections. They thought long-term to avoid physical shutdown, as members needed to meet physically and not just digitally. They implemented additional infection control measures. Employees shared their jobs by being in the Clubhouse and working from home and going out with the members to avoid everyone being infected at the same time, and possibly risking closing the Clubhouse if someone should be infected.
We had physically divided and reduced the Units into two. If you chose a Unit, you had to be there for a whole week. Working at both Units at the same day or week was not allowed. Meetings were held outside in the garden or online. We had strict washing routines and were good at reminding
each other of forgetfulness. But it affected everyone, both members and employees. It was a tough time.
We were all tired. It was especially tough for many of the members. Many were isolated and afraid to go out because of their own health, but we were incredibly good at reaching out. Reach out is one of the most important things we do besides infection control. I see that many people miss physical contact very much. To give a hug. To get a hug. To be able to comfort or just to be able to touch another human. To give a hug in happiness. To shake hands, say hello with a hug or say goodbye with a hug. Just sit next to and sit together. Or just have fun together with human contact.

Finally, I would like to end by saying that I actually think Covid-19 is here for a reason, but that

Nina Bach

theory can be discussed another time. I am very happy that a vaccine is coming soon and that we will eventually live more normally once again without being afraid that you could infect someone and in the worst case scenario to be blamed for causing someone else’s death. For this is incredibly tiring. I’m not really a hugger, but I do notice that I need a hug once in a while from someone who
can say that it’s okay, and feel in my body that they care. I have to admit that I sometimes miss that crushing hug. It’s not the same with two meters distance and comforting words, or just digital hugs and words when you are in despair.

Nina Bach

Writer is a new member of the Board of the Clubhouse
Europe and the Board of Clubhouse Rygge, Norway.

New Initiative from Helsinki:
Clubhouse support for Parents with Children

The Idea about ‘Mini Club’ started in Helsinki Clubhouse when one of our members contacted us and asked whether it was possible to join some of the Clubhouses activities with a baby. Her question centered more around the Social Events program, because she assumed that it was very difficult to join the Work Ordered Day (WOD)with a baby.

A couple of weeks earlier, we had a potential new member visiting our Clubhouse together with her baby. We decided to call both of them and ask their opinion on creating a ‘Mini Club’ in our Clubhouse especially for those mothers who are on their parental leave and who have experiences of mental illness. Mini Club would meet once a week for a two hours period in our Clubhouse. Both mothers got excited about the idea and started the first Mini Club the following week. Mini Club offers some small snack food, coffee, tea, sandwiches and – of course – little sweeties. Parents can come to the Mini Club together with their babies or toddlers. There, they can meet other parents in the same situation and get information of what’s goingon in Clubhouse

”Mini Club has given me a wonderful break from the busy working day.”

Mini Club has come together now six times and there has been three mothers together with their babies. I have been there every time, but in the future, other Clubhouse staff can lead the meetings.
Until now, meetings have included mainly free discussion and getting to know each other.

Ideas have developed which include having lectures once a month, e.g. family support and child welfare worker, speaking about support for families, children’s polyclinic staff talking about their work, child welfare staff advising about where to get help, etc. Counsellor’s could also inform mothers with mental health issues, the kind of help that Clubhouse can provide for them.

At the same time, new members will get information about Clubhouses action through Mini Club. When it is time to return to the working / study / rehabilitation life from the parenthood leave, Clubhouse staff can help them to outline and work / plan towards their future. Mini Club has also given me a wonderful break from the busy working day, when I can have a possibility to meet small babies. For the Mini Club it is also possible to participate without a baby as a “Club aunt” or “Club uncle”, to just admire and/or play with the small ones. There has already been two of these type of participants.

Information about Mini Club was given to all Children’s polyclinics and Psychiatric polyclinics in Helsinki and their staff were asked to share it. We have already had some enquiries from Psychiatric polyclinic and we have also acquired one new Clubhouse member through this information.

Every participant has said that Mini Club has been very important for them. Experiences has been
that Mini Club is different from other Clubs for small children’s parents: the atmosphere is more open to be as you are, because all participants know Mini Club is for parent who has or have had some challenges with mental illnesses. People can openly talk about everything with others because parenting can be quite exhausting too. Everyday living with a baby is hard! It is great to get peer support.

Right now – in December 2020 – we have had to stop Mini Club’s activities due to the corona virus restrictions, but it will start again as soon as it is safe to continue it.

Reetta Sedergren – Director, Helsinki Clubhouse

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