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Clubhouse assists with employment goals

Sun Advocate reporter

The New Heights Clubhouse aids Carbon County's struggling mental health patients in achieving the goal to go back to work.

The clubhouse is sponsored in part by Four Corners Mental Health and various other grants. The clubhouse also has several small fundraisers a year. But the program does not make enough money to fund the clubhouse.

The clubhouse model provides a community with a healthy environment for a person who is struggling with mental illness, pointed out the mental health agency.

All members have an opportunity to benefit from support. Together, they work to accomplish many functions that a paid staff member would do elsewhere.

The program is helping many local residents. But due to the limited number of positions and employers the clubhouse has, the program cannot place many members in employment positions, explained the mental health agency.

The major focus of the clubhouse is transitional employment placement. The TEP program aids members of the clubhouse in finding work and adding skills along with experience to employment resumes.

Through the local business community's cooperation, New Heights is able to offer members work.

The TEP program assists members in meeting goals such as returning to a productive role in the local community, developing independence and preparing the participants for full-time employment.

Positions in the program are part-time entry level jobs that members will work at for six to nine months.

The residents participating in the TEP program will then rotated into different positions.

The clubhouse model has three levels of programming.

The first level is the opportunity to practice working in the day work program at the clubhouse.

Participants are expected to help run the clubhouse and learn how to act in a work environment. Examples of the lessons include what to wear, how to work with others and what it is like to report to a job on a daily basis.

Work completed by participants reduces expenses for the clubhouse because fewer staff members are necessary to run it.

The work done by members at the clubhouse is unpaid, but by working in the program, the participants develop skills along with the confidence needed to be successful with future employment.

The second level is the transitional employment program, where the staff members train participants at an employment site.

Members of the staff first go in unpaid and train for the position by the business, then train the participant.

The process benefits the business since, while the member is trained by the staff, the operation receives two workers for the price of one.

Participants in the program can work in three or four positions and learn different skills.

The experience enables a member to acquire a permanent position by building up a resume, indicated the mental health agency.

The third level is competitive employment.

New Heights Clubhouse staff aids members in finding permanent employment, usually a full- time position, and provide the necessary training for the position.

When working, the clubhouse members are more likely to maintain their mental health, according to the agency.

Many of the individuals participating in the program can leave the mental health system, and gain coverage on employers benefit plan.

Clubhouses can also help members find and maintain low income housing.

The New Heights Clubhouse also provides a social program outside of the business.

Participants develop friendships and learn to participate in social activities.

The program helps participants develop a support system outside of the clubhouse, making the members feel more comfortable when they are ready to leave the program.

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