Jemma is a nursing student from Federation University Australia who attended Recovery Camp in Anglesea Victoria in September 2019.
“Recovery Camp is a unique, highly rewarding and transformative learning experience. Admittedly, I was a little anxious about coming to camp because I had never been exposed to illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar and borderline personality disorder. I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited to find out. During my week at camp, I remember staying up late one night chatting with two consumers in the dining room. When it came time to call it a night, the lights switched off and all of a sudden I was in a pitch-black room with only two other people, one diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and the other living with schizophrenia. This was my ‘light bulb’ moment and I remember thinking to myself ‘wow’. I felt a sense of calmness within me and it made me smile. Any negative feelings and stigma I had attached to mental illness was now gone and I have the consumers at Anglesea Recovery Camp to thank for that. I will be forever grateful that I was privileged enough to spend a week living alongside people with a lived experience of mental illness. It has allowed me to really see a person for who they are, regardless of any diagnosis of mental illness. I loved being able to sit and have a meal with consumers, while asking questions about their day-to-day life. I really valued talking with them while they were well as you don’t get this kind of experience anywhere, especially not on a ward. I had never considered taking my career into mental health until now. I wanted to find out how I could become a great psychiatric nurse and there is no better person to ask, than the consumers themselves.
Recovery Camp consists of a lot of fun and games, however there is a purpose underlying each activity. Teamwork, trust, goal setting, challenging yourself, and encouraging those around you that may be struggling; are all things that come to mind when I think about the ‘why’ behind some of the activities. I will never forget watching staff, students and consumers progress through the high ropes course, where terrified faces became faces resembling nothing but pride. It was amazing to witness. A very big thankyou goes out to Lorna and Kate for facilitating my experience at camp. Your passion and knowledge towards mental health and illness is both refreshing and engaging. Recovery Camp is, without hesitation, a truly lifechanging program that I am privileged to have been a part of.”
– Jemma, 2020