The Thrive Programme at Toowoomba Clubhouse: Building Social Connections and Reducing Stigma Experiences for People with a Lived Experience of Mental Illness

  • Sueanne M. Gola
  • Lorelle J. Burton


Toowoomba Clubhouse is a community-based mental health service in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia. It was founded on the evidence-based Fountain House model for psychosocial rehabilitation and currently operates within the recovery model framework. Social connection, one of the elements of the recovery model, is recognised in existing literature as a key requirement for reducing stigma associated with the lived experience of mental illness. In May 2015, Toowoomba Clubhouse introduced a new programme called ‘Thrive’. Thrive is a supported socialisation programme which matches Clubhouse members (Clubhouse companions) with community volunteers (community companions) with the aim of reducing stigma experiences. Unlike more traditional peer and mentoring programmes, the links between Clubhouse companions and community companions are based on common interests and goals with an aim to develop companionships of equality and friendship. This programme is in line with existing ‘supported accommodation’ and ‘supported employment’ programmes that focus on facilitating natural experiences within the broader community. This chapter provides an overview of the Thrive programme and documents research findings focused on evaluating the effectiveness of Thrive as a stigma reduction programme for people with a lived experience of mental illness.


Recovery model Clubhouse Social connectedness Support socialisation Stigma reduction programme 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sueanne M. Gola
    • 1
  • Lorelle J. Burton
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Health, Engineering and SciencesUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

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