Rep. Ritchie Torres Founds the Congressional Clubhouse Caucus

Mar 06, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) announced that he is founding a new congressional caucus, The Clubhouse Caucus. This caucus will serve as a venue with which members of Congress can advocate for improved mental health care through clubhouses, a collection of supportive community centers for individuals with severe mental illness (SMI). These centers provide a comprehensive approach to recovery, including social, clinical, vocational support, and education, aimed at enhancing members’ quality of life.

“I am proud to announce the establishment of the Clubhouse Caucus, an effort to improve mental health care for individuals with severe mental illness,” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “The Clubhouse Model has shown great success in empowering individuals and reintegrating them into society. Through this caucus, we will advocate for the expansion of Clubhouses across the country, ensuring that more Americans have access to the support they need.”

“We commend Rep. Torres for founding the Clubhouse Caucus and advancing mental illness recovery in a way that emphasizes the strength, dignity, and self-efficacy of people living with serious mental health conditions,” said Ken Zimmerman, CEO of Fountain House. “The Congressman has been a leading mental health advocate in government and we’re pleased to continue to work with him to expand the reach and impact of clubhouses across the country.”

“Thank you to my local congressman, Rep. Torres, for creating the first-ever bipartisan Clubhouse Caucus,” said Arvind Sooknanan, a member of Fountain House’s Bronx clubhouse and a Director on Fountain House’s Board. “Because of his leadership, people with serious mental illness will finally be heard through the halls of Congress, ensuring that more of us can gain access to the community and resources that have made all the difference in my life.”

“The establishment of the Clubhouse Caucus marks a pivotal moment in our dedication to advancing mental health care. By advocating specifically for the transformative power of Clubhouses, we are not only prioritizing the wellbeing of individuals living with serious mental illness, but also recognizing the vital role community support plays in their recovery,” said Joel D. Corcoran, Executive Director and CEO of Clubhouse International. “We are greatly encouraged by, and fully endorse, Congressman Torres’ endeavors to develop a bipartisan forum in an effort to expand the availability of Clubhouse Model programs throughout the country. The initiative will offer positive, holistic, life-changing opportunities for numerous individuals and communities impacted by mental illness. Clubhouse International stands ready to support and assist the work of the Clubhouse Caucus.”

The new caucus will emphasize the Clubhouse Model’s success in fostering personal empowerment, social reintegration, and reducing healthcare costs, advocating for its integration into national mental health strategies to address the complex needs of over 14 million Americans living with SMI.

The Clubhouse Caucus will focus on:

  • Educating members and the public about the Clubhouse Model and the importance of community support for individuals with SMI.
  • Addressing the challenges faced by individuals with SMI, including the need for social reintegration and overcoming racial disparities in mental health care access.
  • Facilitating sustained discussions and civic engagement to support policy changes and improvements in mental health care.
  • Launching new initiatives and strengthening the impact of existing policy advocacy efforts to support the Clubhouse Model.
  • Identifying resources to improve the quality of life for individuals with SMI, focusing on health, education, employment, and housing.

Improving access to mental healthcare is a personal passion of Rep. Torres, influenced by his own struggles with mental health. Rep. Torres has been one of the most outspoken members of Congress on his hardships and journey to self-acceptance. He hopes other elected officials join in and openly discuss their mental health to help reduce the stigma.

Rep. Torres encourages all of his colleagues in Congress, no matter their party, to join the Clubhouse Caucus.

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