Fountain House is a book long due. The model of mental health services – the clubhouse – that is its focus has been practiced for more than half a century. It originated in New York in the late 1940s, as a self-help initiative of people with mental illness in reaction to de-institutionalization, i.e., the considerable reduction of number of psychiatric hospital beds, which resulted in the discharge to the community of many people with mental illness who then had insufficient support in the community. It was transformed to its current form in the early 1950s by John Beard, the executive director of Fountain House in New York City for more than two decades. In the 1990s it spun off international accreditation for clubhouses. To date, there are hundreds of internationally accredited clubhouses across the world, and many more clubhouses that are not internationally accredited, which demonstrated varying fidelity to the clubhouse model. Although the (international) clubhouse standards are published and the model is widely recognized, this is the first publicly available book that reviews the clubhouse model comprehensively. The authors have been leaders of Fountain House.
The book addresses relevant history, theory, evidence, practice and policy related to the clubhouse model, using examples from Fountain House. It is written clearly and it provides ample examples and references. As the chapters are not equally weighted in relevance to current issues, and there is some overlap amongst them, I will not review chapter by chapter but rather key themes addressed in the book