Internationally recognized program helps mentally ill adults thrive

Transitional program boosts confidence, helps members become self sufficient

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Mental illness is a top national issue, and now all eyes are turning towards the most successful recovery programs in the nation, including one in San Antonio. The San Antonio Clubhouse is internationally recognized as one of the most effective forms of psycho-social rehab available today.

"I had a mental breakdown and I ended up here at the Clubhouse after the hospital," said Latoya Busby.

Busby said she is finally calling herself a happy person for the first time in a long time. 

She's been a member of the San Antonio Clubhouse for three months and said she has seen the change.

"They treat me like a person, not a patient. Not that, ‘oh she's sick. She can't do this.’ They tell you, you can do it. Go ahead! They have more confidence in me than I have in myself," she said, with a smile. 

The Clubhouse is a transitional center where about 60 adults with mental illness come to learn self-sufficiency each day. 

"They connect to the community, where they get some job training, get help to get employment, where they're counseled, a safe place for them to come," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

The Clubhouse is one of the county's many mental health community partners, and Judge Wolff visited the center Monday. He checked out the business unit, where members learn work skills, computer skills, even things like how to handle a bank account. He saw the developmental center where members can be a part of volunteering and community building exercises. There's also a wellness center where they learn health management and exercise, even a culinary program where members can take cooking classes, and learn about nutrition.

Wolff said recovery programs like this have significantly lowered the number of mentally ill adults ending up back in hospitals or jails. 

"I haven't been in a hospital, thank God, since I've been here so I guess it's helping me to build my self-esteem and my immune system," Busby said.

She hopes the successful program will help society drop the looming mental health stigma that keeps many people from seeking help at all.

"It's not our fault we were born like this. People just run away from us, like we're a plague or some kind of disease or something. You can't catch bipolar. You can't catch manic depression. You can't catch PTSD. We all need help. There's people that are depressed and stuff but here you can talk to each other," she said.

The camaraderie shows members that they're not only worthy, but that they're not alone.

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