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Australas Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;21(4):352-8. doi: 10.1177/1039856213492351. Epub 2013 Jul 4.

Outdoor adventure camps for people with mental illness.

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Orygen Youth Health and Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.



The aim of the study was to evaluate a novel outdoor adventure camping program for individuals with mental illness.


The program was developed by YMCA Victoria in partnership with Sport and Recreation Victoria, and mental health service agencies. Orygen Youth Health Research Centre conducted the program evaluation. One hundred and eight individuals from mental health services across Victoria participated in 12 camps. Five camps targeted young people between the ages of 18 and 25 years. Seven camps were run for adults 26 years and older. Participants were assessed at baseline, end of camp, and four weeks following the camp in terms of self-esteem, mastery, and social connectedness. Quality of life was assessed at baseline and four weeks post-camp.


Participants demonstrated significant improvements in mastery, self-esteem and social connectedness from baseline to end of the camp; however, these improvements were not sustained by the four-week follow-up.


We have demonstrated that utilizing the expertise of mental health services and a community recreation provider can benefit individuals experiencing mental illness. More research is required with respect to how to sustain these benefits over the longer term.


chronic mental illness; early mental illness; group therapies; outdoor adventure; psychosocial recovery

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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