Researching the Impact of Fountain House’s Model: HPC Fellow Jennifer Yoon

Jennifer Yoon is a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow working with Fountain House. At Fountain House, Jennifer conducts research to better understand the many diverse impacts that clubhouse membership has on its members. Read on to learn about her placement as a Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow.

Fountain House is a community-based organization serving people living with severe mental illness (including bipolar, major depression, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder). In 1948, a group of former psychiatric patients and their supporters bought a building in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, dedicated to ensuring that people living with severe mental illness (SMI) would always have a community to combat social isolation. The house was named for the fountain in the garden of the “clubhouse” (see photo above).

Fountain House was the very first “clubhouse” for mental illness, and served as a model for the almost 300 clubhouses like it all over the world in over 30 countries. Clubhouses are community-based organizations that are organized around the work-ordered day. Work includes cooking, cleaning, data entry and other tasks needed to make the clubhouse itself function on a daily basis. Because of this, members have a place to go that needs them, that recognizes their worthiness and talents, and that offers opportunities to make new social connections. Members learn life and work skills that enhance their path to recovery from mental illness and that facilitate their return to employment. Specialized programs within the clubhouse include those focusing on education, employment, and evening/weekend socialization.

The Hilton Prize Coalition Fellows Program is supporting my work to use research to better understand the many diverse impacts that clubhouse membership has on its members.

In one project, we are collaborating with Dr. Paul Lysaker of Indiana University to study how metacognitive mastery might change in new members from the time they join to a year later when they are established members of the Fountain House community. Metacognitive mastery involves the ability to cope with and overcome life challenges, and we hypothesize that this is just what is strengthened by clubhouse membership.

In another project, faculty from Yale University (Miraj Desai and Larry Davidson) held a course with Fountain House members to teach members how to conduct their own qualitative research using a thematic analysis approach. We hope to use this qualitative research to better reveal what mental illness recovery looks like from the inside out, and to better capture the core themes underlying the recovery experience.

In another project, Kevin Rice, Gytis Simaitis, and myself have joined together as a team we call “Research in Recovery” (photo left to right: Gytis Simaitis, Jennifer Yoon, Kevin Rice). Our group is dedicated to researching population health outcomes of Fountain House membership.

A significant portion of my fellowship will be spent gathering key data points about Fountain House program usage and connecting these with important healthcare outcomes including medication adherence and hospitalization rates.

I am proud and excited to be a 2019 Hilton Prize Coalition Fellow. I believe that my scientific training (M.Sc. 2005; Ph.D. 2012) will be especially useful in approaching the “Research in Recovery” population health research goals. Because our team is based in Fountain House, a mental health community, we are very member-oriented and consumer-informed in our approach. Of course, we want our research findings to yield useful data for external funding bodies who are considering financial investment in Fountain House. More importantly, however, we want to make sure our research is useful to members and provides them with important information about their own recovery journeys.

About the Hilton Prize Coalition

The  Hilton Prize Coalition  is an independent alliance of the winners of the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize, working together to achieve collective impact. Through three signature programs—the  Fellows Program, the  Collaborative Models Program  and the  Storytelling Program—the Coalition leverages the resources, talents and expertise of each of its members to innovate and establish best practices that can be shared with the global NGO and donor communities. Working in more than 170 countries, the Coalition is governed by a board comprised of the leaders of the Prize-winning organizations led by an Executive Committee and a Secretariat,  Global Impact.

To learn more about the Hilton Prize Coalition, visit  prizecoalition.charity.org, or contact  prizecoalition@charity.org. Follow  the Hilton Prize Coalition on  Twitter and  LinkedIn, and “Like” us on Facebook.

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