Mental health program acquires new location

At left, local Clubhouse director Janelle Peters presents information about the mental health program to Marquette County commissioners. The Pathways Community Mental Health-funded program is a successful international model and evidence-based practice. (Journal photo by Jaymie Depew)

MARQUETTE — Pathways Community Mental Health has found a building to house its Clubhouse program — the former site of the Marquette County Youth Home, which closed in April.

Marquette County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted in support of the $300,000 sale Tuesday night during a regular meeting.

Commissioner Bill Nordeen was absent and excused from the meeting.

Clubhouse is a recovery-focused program for people living with serious mental illness that provides hope and opportunities to achieve their full potential, according to local Clubhouse director Janelle Peters.

“Clubhouse is a stepping stone for people whose lives have been interrupted by mental illness. There are a lot of clinical and crisis services that are already provided in our area fortunately, but there are some needs that aren’t able to be met through clinical or crisis services and that’s where Clubhouse comes in,” Peters said.

At the Clubhouse, members and staff work side by side to do all the work of the clubhouse. Cooking, cleaning and grant writing are among some of the many skill developments and opportunities provided. Clubhouse also has its own employment and education programs as well.

“It’s that participation and involvement in the meaningful work that helps someone in their recovery,” Peters said. “Members at the Clubhouse know they’re needed. They have talents and skills to contribute to better and grow our community. We all need a place that we’re needed.”

Clubhouses are a successful international model and evidence-based practice, Peters stated. There are two other programs in the Upper Peninsula — the Northern Lights Clubhouse in Hancock and the House of Dreams Clubhouse in Menominee. Peters said there are 47 clubhouses in Michigan — more than any other state — with over 330 worldwide in 34 countries.

“As I’ve stated, Clubhouse is an evidence-based program,” Peters said. “There has been a lot of research to show that Clubhouses help people in their recovery with mental illness.”

According to Peters, some of those positive outcomes and impacts Pathways has noted include:

≤ Clubhouses have a 42 percent employment rate. Other vocational services are usually less than 30 percent. Clubhouses “help people return to work, stay at work and maintain their jobs,” Peters said.

≤ Cost-effective; one year of Clubhouse services cost the same as a two-week stay at a psychiatric hospital;

≤ Reduced hospitalization;

≤ Improvement of well-being and overall connectedness;

≤ Better physical and mental health;

≤ Research is being done now to show Clubhouse helps people with mental illnesses stay out of jail.

The Clubhouse in Marquette officially opened on June 5 with one member. It now has 15 members and is expected to grow substantially with a new space.

Billie Kitzman, the first member of Marquette’s Clubhouse who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2011, also spoke at the board meeting.

“I have a BA in women’s studies with an additional major in philosophy. After graduating I worked mostly in administrative positions until I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder,” Kitzman said. “Before and after I was diagnosed, I was homeless a couple of times. I’ve been in my apartment now for five years. When I was first diagnosed I thought my life was over.”

Kitzman said she turned to drinking after her diagnosis and after getting sober she became a part of the Clubhouse start-up group in December. Since then she’s helped write grants, articles for the newsletter, cooking, cleaning and participated in a three-week long training in New York City where she talked about the “ins and outs of running the Clubhouse,” she said.

“I’m using a lot of my skills and learning a lot of new ones, primarily the cooking,” she noted.

Last week Kitzman even presented at the Clubhouse National Seminar.

“I’m doing things and I’m really proud of where I’m at today,” she said. “I’m really grateful to Pathways and grateful to Clubhouse specifically. I go to a place where I’m needed to do the work and it’s given me back a measure of my dignity and self-respect to the point where I’m applying for jobs now in the community.”

All referrals to Clubhouse derive from Pathways Community Mental Health. According to Peters, people come and go as they please but folks with open schedules are encouraged to set a schedule or routine because it can be a “key piece” in recovery.

“With the Division Street property, we were just excited thinking about the space and what this property would provide to us,” Peters said.

According to Peters, the Clubhouse plans to use every inch of the property that’s located at 2111 Division St. in Marquette to help promote its members’ recovery, independence and community integration.

Board Chairman Gerry Corkin stated that the sale is a good reuse of property at a fair price.

“We’re always trying to do good for the public and this program will make a positive impact,” Corkin said.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal .net.