The program helps people with severe mental illness to integrate into society

MIAMI – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25 Americans is living with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or major depression.

An accredited recovery-through-work program is helping improve the lives of adults with serious mental illness.

“Hello, Key Clubhouse of South Florida,” said Veronica Lallan, who is part of the program and spends her time at the front desk.

In the rooms around them is a busy day.

People here are developing the skills to be productive members of society despite their mental illness.

“A lot of people haven’t worked for years because of their illness, but we’re getting them to practice, getting them back into the workforce,” said executive director Debra Webb.

The participants, so-called “members”, join voluntarily and are trained in various aspects of daily life.

“We’re not a medical model, we’re a professional rehabilitation model, but most importantly, we’re building a restorative community so it’s free of stigma. You don’t have to talk about your mental illness, we don’t do support groups, we build relationships like you would in your workplace,” Webb said.


Members must be referred by mental health professionals and then screened for attendance.

The program is free and supported by state, county, grant and private donations.

“At first I was like, ‘shouldn’t I come?’ and since I’ve been at the Key clubhouse, it’s been amazing. It helped me a lot,” said member Leticia Gomez.

“Now I’m happier, you know, before I was in the dark I felt like I was in a box and nobody cared about me until I got here. I feel ‘at home,'” said Lallan.

There are 330 Key Clubhouses around the world, including 13 in Florida.

The South Florida Key Clubhouse currently has 150 active members and is the first to also offer lodging.

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https://www.local10.com/health/2022/07/01/program-helps-people-with-severe-mental-illness-integrate-into-society/ The program helps people with severe mental illness to integrate into society

Sarah Y. Kim

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