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Liberty Centre a ‘shining example’ of Clubhouse standards

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Posted: Friday, May 13, 2016 9:01 am

A Norfolk agency that serves people with mental illness had a special visitor Thursday.

The Liberty Centre welcomed Joel Corcoran of New York, executive director of Clubhouse International — the nonprofit organization through which the Norfolk facility is accredited.

Corcoran met Thursday morning with about 15 local business leaders who employ Liberty Centre members in the community.

“I had the opportunity to thank them for that, to explain to them that they’re part of something much larger than Norfolk — they’re helping us to change the world by reducing the stigma and discrimination for people with mental illness,” Corcoran said.

Corcoran later met with the members and staff of the Liberty Centre to update them on several issues occurring in the world of mental health.

“There’s a huge gap in health care for people living with serious mental illness. According to multiple studies, people with serious mental illnesses die 20-25 years earlier than the general population, due to co-morbid health concerns like diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Corcoran said.

The Clubhouse community recently created a new standard to promote healthy lifestyles to be integrated into the international standards, he said.

“We’re all going to hold each other accountable.”

The Liberty Centre is the only accredited Clubhouse International organization in Nebraska, following the standards closely and providing a “shining example” of how a Clubhouse should be run, Corcoran said.

The Clubhouse model is a community resource center for people living with serious mental illness. It promotes empowerment and the belief in the potential success in even the most severely disabled person through an aggressive reach-out program, transportation systems, important work for members to do each day, education, employment and wellness, Corcoran said.

“The Liberty Centre has extremely good outcomes by comparison to other Clubhouses and other services in areas like reduction in hospitalization, accessing needed health care services and especially in terms of employment. They’re very good at that,” he said.

The mission of the Clubhouse is to end social and economic exclusion for people living with mental illness in their community.

“It’s where people can belong to this organization to help rebuild their futures, the futures that they were robbed of by mental illness. ... It’s important to help them go back to participating as full citizens of their communities,” Corcoran said.

An instrumental Norfolkan who helped to set into motion what is today Clubhouse International was honored Thursday afternoon by Corcoran and members and staff of the Liberty Centre.

J. Paul McIntosh of Norfolk was part of a small group of individuals who were affiliated with Liberty Centre 21 years ago, Corcoran said.

“They agreed to give their time and serve on a new organization where we envisioned that by creating a close network of Clubhouse programs, we could in fact create a social movement where it would be changing the world.

“J. Paul McIntosh committed his time and resources to be part of that founding board that had this vision that we could end social and economic exclusion for people with mental illness,” Corcoran said.

Today, there are more than 300 Clubhouses in 34 countries, and the organization is still growing.

“The impact that small board, of which J. Paul was a founder, has changed communities around the world is exponential,” Corcoran said.

In 2014, Clubhouse International, together with Fountain House (the first Clubhouse, located in New York City), was awarded the Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian prize. The honor is awarded to a nonprofit, nongovernment organization that has had significant success at alleviating human suffering.

“By getting this organization started, and by believing that we could do this around the world and alleviating human suffering, J. Paul’s contributions as a founding board member were invaluable,” Corcoran said.

Patty Skokan, executive director of Liberty Centre Services, said McIntosh also was named as the first emeritus board member of the Liberty Centre. A rendering of a legacy wall including McIntosh and six other longtime board members was revealed during the afternoon’s presentation as well.

“We’re at a pivotal point in our state right now with lots of changes happening in behavioral health care, and we have some really great leadership at the state level. ... Clubhouse really needs to be a key part of that, because of the success of it, because of the outcomes that are produced and because of the cost-effectiveness of it. Really, just the whole effect that Clubhouse can have on a society,” Skokan said.

© 2016 The Norfolk Daily News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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