Uni in the Brewery: Recovery Camp and mental health

An academic, a student and a person with lived experience of mental illness will share their differing perspectives of the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) award-winning Recovery Camp at a Uni in the Brewery event on Wednesday August 15.

Recovery Camp delivers life-changing, evidence-based programs for health students, health professionals, and people with ongoing illness. It combines a professional experience placement for health students, with a recovery-oriented experience for those living with a mental illness.

For Nursing, Psychology, Dietetics and Exercise Physiology students, Recovery Camp provides an opportunity to work with – and learn from – real people with varying forms of mental illness. Nursing students can count the experience as a mental health clinical placement for their degree.

For people with a mental illness (consumers), Recovery Camp provides an environment that challenges, supports and empowers them, giving them greater ownership over their recovery journey.

Participants spend five days together at a therapeutic recreation camp in the bush taking part in a structured program of recovery-oriented activities. Activities can include a flying fox, a giant swing, rock climbing, archery, tai chi, bush dancing, orienteering, tie dying, team initiatives, a high-ropes course and an obstacle course.

At the Uni in the Brewery event, Professor of Mental Health Nursing and Recovery Camp founder Dr Lorna Moxham, nursing student Chris Hinder, and Recovery Camp consumer Kaylene Booth will speak about mental health, training in the field and the lived experience of Recovery Camp.

Professor Moxham, from UOW’s School of Nursing and leader of the Global Challenges ‘Living Well, Longer’ program, said that more than 400 consumers and more than 450 health students had taken part in Recovery Camp since it was established.

“We held the first camp in 2013 and initially held one camp a year, then expanded that to two camps a year and now we are holding six camps a year. We now have students from seven other universities coming to Recovery Camp to undertake their mental health clinical placement,” Professor Moxham said.

“We know the camps have a very positive impact on students, on consumers (people with a lived experience of mental illness), and on carers.

“Among consumers who have taken part in Recovery Camp it has led to a 67 per cent decrease in the length of stays in hospital, a 35 per cent decrease in emergency department presentations and a 37 per cent decrease in their use of community mental health resources.

“So not only is Recovery Camp keeping people out of hospitals and improving the quality of their lives, it is also reducing the financial burden on the overall health system.”

Kaylene Booth has attended all but one of the Recovery Camps since the program was launched in 2013.

Chris Hinder attended Recovery Camp in May 2018 in his third year of nursing. He will share his experience of how university research makes a difference to consumers’ social and emotional wellbeing, and also to students learning and attitudes to mental health.

When: 5.30pm – 7pm, Wednesday 15 August 2018

Where: iAccelerate foyer (Building 239), Innovation Campus, Squires Way, North Wollongong


UOW’s Global Challenges Program is an interdisciplinary research initiative, harnessing the expertise of world-class researchers from different disciplines to address complex, real-world problems. The program tackles challenges paramount to our local region, with the potential to make a difference on a global scale.

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