What is Cirrus House?

Cirrus House, Inc. focuses on providing quality of life and independence for people living with mental illness in the Nebraska Panhandle through providing opportunities for advocacy, housing, employment, education and a peer supported community where members can find belonging and purpose. We are CARF-Accredited and therefore is recognized among an international community of programs and agencies delivering superior standards of care and providing excellence in outcomes.

 

History

Cirrus House started in 1984 as a Clubhouse program and has since grown to include housing, an assisted living program, transitional services for youth, homeless assistance, community support programs and other related service. Though we are more than a Clubhouse now the original clubhouse philosophy of working with people permeates everything we do. As such Cirrus House, Inc. promotes approaches that focus on talents, abilities and strengths instead of on deficits.

It is important to emphasize that this does not mean focusing on positives and ignoring concerns or fabricating strengths that do not exist. Rather, it means figuring out ways to recognize and utilize genuine strengths in a person to allow building on existing competencies while effectively addressing concerns. As well as Clubhouse philosophy, we have barrowed cues from psychosocial rehabilitation models, strengths-based/asset building models, positive youth development, trauma informed care and positive human development models. In general we focus on treating people with dignity and respect while minimizing stigmas often associated with mental illness.

Many people with serious mental illness are challenged doubly. On one hand, they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from mental health issues. On the other, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness. As a result of both, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and affiliation with a diverse group of people. At Cirrus House we actively work to overcome those challenges.


 

Key Components of the Cirrus House Philosophy

Engagement: People need opportunities to engage in meaningful activities, have a voice, take responsibility for their actions, and actively participate in civic discourse.  When people are not engaged in meaningful activities or in environments that honor their voice, they are at risk for feeling their existence has no meaning for others or themselves.

Connectedness: People need to belong. They need to be connected to a family and a community to thrive. A growing body of brain research indicates that humans are “hardwired to connect”. Social connectedness enables us to experience an increased ability to formulate a greater sense of self identity and fosters security, hope, self-worth and an overall sense of purpose.

Preparedness: People need to develop competencies and skills. Competencies range from cognitive, social, emotional, vocational, and cultural.  With these competencies people are in a better position to successfully overcome adversity as well as to accomplish personal goals.

Safety and Basic Needs: People need their needs met (housing, food, medical, social etc) and to feel safe before they can set goals for future growth.

Voice/Choice: People need to be included as active participants in any initiative that affects them or their lives. They have to be equal partners in the process.

These Key Components reflect a major shift in thinking for traditional social service providers. Instead of asking what we can do to fix mental illness and the issues associated with mental illness – we are asking what opportunities, learning experiences, supports do we need to give people so that they feel connected, prepared and engaged. We help people to figure out how they as individuals can live with and rehabilitate from mental illness to be productive contributing members of our communities.

 


 

Long-term involvement: Development assumes long-term commitment. Activities and supportive relationships need to endure for a long period of time to be effective. For example members know that “Once you’re a member you are always a member.” A person’s involvement in the services and programs of Cirrus House, Inc. may increase and decrease over time as a individuals needs dictate but they always have a place to call home.

Community involvement: Cirrus House, Inc. stresses the importance to engage the larger social environment that we all live in. This includes family and friends, and the neighborhood they live in. Community includes employers, organizations, schools, law enforcement agencies, faith and civic groups, and private citizens. Mental illness not only affects individuals but it has the potential to affect the family and friends in an individual’s life.

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