'Like a second home': Fountain House connects New Yorkers with mental health services

Last week, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a new mental health plan, saying he wants more funding for what are known as ‘clubhouses.'

The Fountain House on West 47th Street is one of those clubhouses, a supportive non-profit center that connects New Yorkers living with serious mental illnesses with clinical support, employment, and educational services. 

"It's like a second home type feeling," one member told FOX 5 NY. "Like second nature."

The Fountain House, the oldest and largest clubhouse in the world, is taking a pioneering approach to mental health. Expanding funding to clubhouses is a major part of Mayor Eric Adams' new initiative to tackle the city's mental health crisis. 

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"For people with serious mental illness, help doesn't mean a single intervention," Mayor Adams said. "Community is critical."

Fountain House is open 365 days a year. Anyone can join, and no insurance is needed. It is one of the 14 clubhouses in the city, where members and staff work side by side, collaborating efforts in the facility's kitchen, garden, and other activities. 

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"I like to look at it as we are helping folks get back to life. Whatever in their lives has been interrupted, whether it's work or school," said Raj Basabathini.

The Fountain House's collaborative approach differs from traditional mental health rehab centers, aiming to break social isolation through community and work.

"Most centrally, they fully participate and co-design everything that takes place in the clubhouse," said Ken Zimmerman, CEO of Fountain House. "And in doing so, the evidence shows that it significantly reduces costs."

It is unclear just how much the city will commit to clubhouses, but Mayor Adams says the goal is to triple the number of people served.