Collective Identity Formation in the Mental Health Clubhouse Community

James M. Mandiberg
Michael Edwards

DOI: 10.2190/SH.7.1.c


Contemporary community-based mental health programs are predominantly individually focused. Those programs provide few opportunities to develop collective identity among service users. Yet several lines of identity research have demonstrated that strong and positive collective identity may buffer the ill effects of stigma and discrimination on individuals from stigmatized populations. This article reviews that research and through it analyzes the Fountain House model mental health clubhouse and the international clubhouse movement. The collective, mutual aid, and social movement activities within and between clubhouses are considered in light of their contribution to collective identity formation. The article concludes with an appeal to go beyond the typical services research that is focused upon incremental improvements to interventions, and to include research on basic social and psychological processes, such as identity, to inform the way mental health services are designed.

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