Skip to content

West 47th Street

Premiere Date: August 19, 2003

The Clubhouse Model

West 47th Street features members of Fountain House, a pioneer in the field of psychiatric rehabilitation. The history of Fountain House dates back to the mid-1940s, when 10 former psychiatric patients from Rockland State Hospital formed a self-help group they called "We Are Not Alone" to assist one another and ex-patients like themselves find jobs, places to live, and friendship — paths back to independence and productivity. In 1948, they found a permanent meeting place on West 47th Street — a brownstone with an outdoor fountain in the back.

The notion that mentally ill people could actively partner in their own healing and become fully functioning community members was revolutionary in an era when the mentally ill were highly stigmatized and most often sent away to secluded institutions. In contrast, Fountain House tried to create a physical environment that resembled a private home, rather than a hospital. There were no bars on the windows and no part of the building was restricted from members.

Additionally, Fountain House was established as a Clubhouse, not a service center — an important distinction. A service center is a site from which social workers administer case management and clients receive services. While case management is a part of Fountain House's activities, the principal purpose of the Clubhouse is that of a center for work, education, and entertainment activities organized and administered with the help of the members.

Today, Fountain House offers a wide range of housing, educational, employment, support, and social service programs that help people with mental illness achieve their full potential and gain respect as co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Fountain House has also become a nationally recognized center for research into the rehabilitation of individuals with mental illness and it serves as a key training base for people around the world who want to replicate its groundbreaking Clubhouse Model. More than 300 such programs are currently operating around the world, supported by administration and oversight from the International Center for Clubhouse Development in New York.

Clubhouse activities include members as equal partners with staff, giving members a sense of belonging that eases the feelings of isolation and lack of purpose that often accompany mental illness. The Clubhouse Model recognizes that all members are entitled to pursue recovery in their own ways and in their own time. The type or duration of a member's participation in any program is not mandated. Membership is open-ended, with each member pursuing an individualized path of recovery that recognizes that every member can progress and that failure does not exist.

RELATED WEBSITES

Fountain House: the first "clubhouse"
Visit the site of the first "clubhouse," the first program of its kind founded on the premise that regardless of mental illness, clubhouse "members" could work productively and have socially satisfying lives, working side-by-side with staff, as peers and partners, in every function of the clubhouse operation.

International Center for Clubhouse Development
Learn more about the clubhouse model which grew out of Fountain House and which serves as the model for more than three hundred clubhouse programs operating in 24 counties around the world including: Pakistan, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Canada, and South Africa.

Reintegration.com
This is an online resource that offers individuals dealing with schizophrenia and related disorders information about how to meet their objectives of living as independently as possible.

Based on information from the Fountain House website.

The Infinite Mind

"The Infinite Mind" is a weekly radio show focusing on the art and science of the human mind and spirit, behavior, and mental health produced by West 47th Street filmmakers Bill Lichtenstein and June Peoples. The program is hosted by the former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Fred Goodwin, and features weekly commentaries by John Hockenberry, one of public radio's most respected voices.

Voices of an Illness

This three-part series was created by filmmaker Bill Lichtenstein as a way of relating his own experience following his diagnosis with, and recovery from, manic depression. It has provided millions with an extraordinary window on serious mental illness since the series premiere in 1992. The National Institute of Mental Health hailed the series as having "truly set new standards of creativity and scientific accuracy in broadcast journalism about mental illness." Listen to selections from this program.

The Infinite Mind - Selected Shows (Audio Available)

Mental Health and the Media
Explore the links between the mainly negative portrayals of people with mental illnesses in the media and widespread discrimination against those affected by these illnesses. Go behind the headlines to what really goes on in a newsroom. Explore how stories about people with mental illnesses can make for "must watch" television that's dramatically compelling and accurate. (Week of July 16, 2003)

State of Mind: America 2003
This edition examines the impact of major mental health budget cuts in states throughout the country, and the threat they pose to the well-being of some of the most vulnerable and fragile Americans, as well as the real cost to society. Also, African Americans and depression, and mental health treatment by family and primary care physicians.

Mental Health Care for Immigrants
Guests including the president and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, the clinical director of ACCESS: the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, a psychologist from Sierra Leone who works at the Bellevue /NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and one of the world's leading experts in medical anthropology and cross-cultural psychiatry. (Week of April 9, 2003)

Mental Illness in the Family
Anger. Frustration. Resentment. Helplessness. If someone in your family has mental illness, may be feeling all of these things. What can you do to help yourself, and by doing so your loved one as well? (Week of February 5, 2003)

(Transcripts Only)

Laughter
We all do it. It's fun. It feels good. And many scientists say there's evidence it's good for you. The Infinite Mind looks at laughter, comedy, laugh tracks, and laughter as therapy. (Week of August 7, 2002)

The Hidden Cost of Mental Illness
Recently, the White House and Capitol Hill have weighed the potential benefits and costs of requiring health insurers to provide treatment for psychiatric disorders. The Infinite Mind turns to the cost of NOT treating them. (Week of May 15, 2002)

Mental Illness in Troubled Times
According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 7 out of 10 Americans feel depressed, nearly half have had trouble concentrating, and nearly one-third report having trouble sleeping at night. A compilation of common sense, science and psychology on topics such as courage, altruism, trauma, grieving, group psychology, and anxiety from some of The Infinite Mind's best programs. (Week of September 26, 2001)

Cyberpsych: Mental Health on the Internet
In this age of cyber-everything, it's hard to imagine anything that can't be gotten online, and that includes mental health information and services. In this hour, The Infinite Mind discusses Internet mental health in terms of treatment, ethics, privacy, law and money. (Week of July 11, 2001)

Women and Mental Illness
Women are more likely to have clinical depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. And their roles — particularly as mothers — can further compound their mental health problems. This program explores both the biological and social forces shaping women's experience of mental illness. (Week of June 13, 2001)

Top 10 Discoveries from the Decade of the Brain
The 1990s, the decade of the brain, marked an acceleration of neuroscience research. This show takes a look at some of the astounding progress we made in that decade, highlighting the ten most important breakthroughs. (Week of May 23, 2001)

Schizophrenia: Second Chances
Dramatic advances in schizophrenia research are providing new hope for people suffering from the disease. In this show, The Infinite Mind explores recent genetic discoveries, as well as new developments in medical and therapeutic treatment. (Week of April 11, 2001)

Double Jeopardy
Mental illness and addiction: for 10 million Americans these debilitating disorders, hard enough to cope with on their own, are a deadly team. Sharing their first hand experiences with dual diagnoses are Robert, a client at New York's innovative Institution for Community Living, and writer Emily Carter. (Week of March 13, 2001)

Are Mentally Ill People More Violent?
Mental illness often appears in the media in connection with violent acts, so that fairly or not, many think the two are linked. Are they? Top mental health experts and advocates disagree on that connection, and on how it affects public policy. (Week of September 14, 1998)

Mental Illness

General Information

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Find out more about mental illness through the Science on Our Minds Series, a collection of fact sheets developed by NIMH for the White House Conference on Mental Health that provide general information about various psychiatric conditions, as well as recent advances in research on mental illness.

National Mental Health Association (NMHA)
The NMHA is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness.

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
NAMI offers extensive resources on mental illness, research and public policy, as well as links to support organizations. The site also features online discussion groups that offer a place for people to stay informed about issues, share knowledge and experience, and find support.

The Treatment Advocacy Center
Get updated articles, policy statements, and research briefs related to legal, medical, and general issues affecting the mentally ill. Site visitors can find out about specific laws and services available in specific states.

National Mental Health Information Center
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) National Mental Health Information Center is a clearinghouse for users of mental health services and their families, the general public, policy makers, providers, and the media. In addition to directing individuals to federal, state, and local agencies, the website also provides information on Federal grants, conferences, and other events.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the nation's largest patient-directed, illness-specific organization.

National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression
NARSAD is the largest donor-supported organization in the world devoted exclusively to supporting scientific research on brain and behavior disorders.

Mental Health Awareness

Homelessness

The National Resource Center on Homelessness and Mental Illness
Find out more about why people with serious mental illnesses are over-represented among the homeless population and what resources are available to them.

Supportive Housing for Homeless People with Severe Mental Illness - PDF
Read the study by Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at University of Pennsylvania, which assesses the potential benefits and challenges of public investment in supportive housing for homeless people with severe mental disabilities. (published May 2001)

Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH)
Browse the Corporation for Supportive Housing's extensive online library of articles related to all aspects of supportive housing, or connect to any of their local programs in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.


Also on PBS and NPR

PBS.org Websites

Online Newshour: Treating Depression
Reporter Susan Dentzer looks at the effect the availability of generic forms of Prozac might have on the the treatment of depression. Includes links to an investigation of the efficacy of St. John's Wort and a special report on the 1999 White House conference on mental health (September 2001)

American Experience: A Brilliant Madness
The story of Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Nash whose career was cut short by a battle with schizophrenia, and whose life was the subject of the Ron Howard film "A Brilliant Mind." The companion website features a timeline, interviews with doctors, and excerpts from Nash's autobiography. (2002)

Bill Moyers: Close to Home
This comprehensive website offers reports on the science of understanding and treating addiction, animated scientific illustrations, real-life stories of people who talk about their struggles with the disease of addiction and their lives in recovery, editorials debating controversial policy issues, downloadable educational guides, a discussion forum, information on where to get help, and much more. (1998)

Frontline: Medicating Kids
Frontline examines the dramatic increase in the prescription of behavior-modifying drugs for children. Are these medications really necessary — and safe — for young children, or merely a harried nation's quick fix for annoying, yet age-appropriate, behavior? Watch the entire show online. (2001)

Frontline: A Crime of Insanity
The story of Ralph Tortorici's struggles with mental illness, the fateful day he took a classroom full of students hostage, and his tortuous path through the criminal justice system. (2002)

Perfect Illusions: Eating Disorders and the Family
Discover what an eating disorder is, find help and resources, and take a look into the lives of several families dealing with the consequences of anorexia and bulimia. (2003)

It's My Life: Eating Disorders (En Español)
Website for "tweens" that tackles tough topics like anorexia and bulimia, with advice for spotting the disorder in friends, a quiz you can test yourself on and first-person story of one young woman's struggle with bulimia. Also check out their pages on clinical depression. (2002)

A Science Odyssey: Human Behavior - Then and Now
In 1900, many people suffered "from the stresses the industrial, urbanizing society, experiencing a variety of nervous disorders, such as insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and exhaustion." Find out more about the history of the treatment of mental illness in this detailed timeline. (1998)

NPR Stories

Talk of the Nation: Quality of Mental Health Programs
A new report by a presidential commission says many mental health programs around the country are not providing quality care for those with schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses. Host Neal Conan and guests discuss the problems mental health agencies face and what's being done to improve their services. (July 23, 2003)

Morning Edition: DNA and the Brain
In the final of four stories marking the 50th anniversary of DNA's discovery, NPR's Jon Hamilton reports that genetic causes of mental illness have proved illusive to find. (April 25, 2003)

The Sights and Sounds of Schizophrenia
The textbook description of schizophrenia is a listing of symptoms: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior. But what does schizophrenia really feel like? NPR's Joanne Silberner reports on a virtual reality experience that simulates common symptoms of the mental illness. You can also view a multimedia slideshow of highlights of the pharmacy simulation. (Aug. 29, 2002)

Talk of the Nation: Understanding the Mind and Brain
Neuroimaging studies are unlocking some of the secrets of the human brain, from schizophrenia to emotions to consciousness. Listen to a conversation with Nancy Andreasen and Antonio Damasio — two of the world's leading brain scientists — about advances in understanding the brain and the mind.

For more links to audio stories, check out the list of recommended shows in "The Infinite Mind" section of West 47th Street Resources.





Talk About This

Share This

Upcoming Films