Time away from everyday life to focus on mental health can not only be very therapeutic, it can make a real difference in future quality of life. Recovery Camp delivers life-changing, evidence-based programs whereby health students work with people living with ongoing illness towards their recovery.
The person-centred initiatives see people with a lived experience of mental illness take part in a five-day recreation camp in the Australian bush, alongside health students. Camps are facilitated by mental health nursing and education academics, and up to 100 camp participants enjoy a wide range of structured activities as part of a community supporting each other’s mental health learning and recovery.
Christopher Patterson is Director and co-founder of Recovery Camp, working with Professor Lorna Moxham and Dr Dana Perlman to develop and deliver the transformational program. He says that ongoing research supports Recovery Camp’s positive contribution to individuals’ wellbeing and mental health recovery.
“By focusing on and promoting hope and strengths at camp, people are empowered, and carry this with them post-camp into the community,” he explains.
Students from nursing, psychology, dietetics and exercise physiology attend each camp, gaining first-hand experience in community-based mental health care and treatment. It offers an innovative and immersive professional placement opportunity through which students gain from a lived experience of mental illness.
“Recovery Camp has provided more than 30,000 hours of clinical placement to health students across Australia since our camps commenced in May 2013,” says Patterson.
Available nationwide, the multi award-winning program has significant anecdotal and documented evidence of a profound effect on its participants. Published, peer-reviewed research has competence and decreased stigmatising attitudes when compared to other workplace experience placements.
Recovery Camp is part of Living Well, Longer, the UOW Global Challenges Program examining how we can live well throughout the course of our lives and improve quality of life in later years.
“We are working to enhance and transform the lives of people who are living with mental illness by empowering them now, and by preparing health professionals of the future.”