Mental health focus through Recovery Camp

Empowerment focus: The unique program promotes recovery for people with a lived experience of mental health conditions while training the next generation of Australian health professionals. Photo: Supplied
Empowerment focus: The unique program promotes recovery for people with a lived experience of mental health conditions while training the next generation of Australian health professionals. Photo: Supplied

RECOVERY Camp is changing the lives of people living with mental health conditions or as they say "experts by living experience".

The award winning and evidence-based program brings together university health students, health professionals and people living with mental health conditions in a safe bush camp environment of learning and interacting through activities.

The unique program promotes recovery for people living with mental health conditions while training the next generation of Australian health professionals.

"Recovery Camp is improving mental health education, and contributing positively to the mental health recovery of people in the community - it is a model of shared community experience," director Professor Lorna Moxham said. "In this setting, all attendees, students, and people with lived experience, learn from and with one another."

During camp, people with lived experience, health students and health professionals spend five days together at an outdoors therapeutic recreation camp and participate in a structured recovery-oriented activities program.

The program is designed to challenge, build camaraderie and provide opportunities for attendees to learn from one another. Activities can include a flying fox, giant swing, rock climbing, archery, tai chi, bush dancing, orienteering, tie-dying, a high-ropes course, an obstacle course and more.

Students from 11 universities across Australia attend the camp for professional experience placement (otherwise known as clinical placement); these are often students studying nursing but can also include those studying psychology, nutrition and other health related disciplines.

"Recovery Camp teaches students things that can't be taught in a textbook or in a lecture," Lorna said. "It develops essential life skills not only in training to become a health practitioner but to learn about and understand mental health and recovery first-hand from those with lived experience."

Recovery Camp was founded as a collaboration between academics at University of Wollongong in 2013. The camp remains a flagship program, and is now running six times a year. The founders are constantly ensuring that the program is achieving evidence-based success through research.

In 2020 Recovery Camp added to its community-based programs, offering local events such as short recovery-focused courses, and the Recovery Camp at Makerspace program.

Recovery Camp is a registered provider of the NDIS for psychosocial recovery programs.

For more information please visit their website at recoverycamp.com.au.

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