AUSTIN, Texas — This past summer the community-based organization Austin Clubhouse struggled to provide the mental health support its clients needed. 

What You Need To Know

  • This past summer, Austin Clubhouse, which provides mental health services, shut its doors

  • The organization's representatives say that was prompted by an executive order by Gov. Greg Abbott forbidding it from asking members about COVID-19 vaccination status 

  • Still, workers provided services outside the building and during the zenith of COVID-19 risk-based guidelines in Travis County

  • The building has since reopened, and team members are planning a fundraiser 

Since an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott prevented them from asking for proof of vaccination, the team says it felt forced to shut its doors.  

But now the doors to Austin Clubhouse are back open.

Austin Clubhouse is a safe space for Rue Johnson. Johnson has been a member for quite a while now. 

"Really great place that's no-judgment and a way I can socialize without being triggered,” Johnson shared.

Austin Clubhouse’s mission is to empower and support adults who have been diagnosed with mental health conditions. But this summer, the organization struggled to provide as much help as its clients needed, attributing that to the aforementioned executive order by Gov. Abbott. 

They worked from outside the building while Travis County was in the highest stages of its COVID-19 risk-based guidelines.

"It made me sad,” Johnson said. “It made me feel like at a loss because now what am I going to do for socialization? It increased my anxiety, I mean to limits I hadn't had in a few years.”

Executive Director Sharon Lowe says her team is happy to be back, giving members a space to thrive.

"This is a place of community where you can explore your strengths rather than feel that you are defined in any way by a mental health diagnosis,” Lowe said. 

Members like Johnson couldn't be more thankful.

"I have the opportunity to be able to show up and be in a place where I feel good,” Johnson said.

The organization is back open just in time to host its WANA Live Party, an evening to celebrate community while increasing awareness of mental health recovery and wellness. 

The event will raise funds for Austin Clubhouse and will be held on Dec. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can reach out to Austin Clubhouse for additional information.