When Andy first joined the Mind Recovery College® he felt lonely and isolated.

The 36-year-old from Bendigo in regional Victoria struggled with his mental health, often feeling overwhelmed in social settings and finding it difficult to communicate and connect with others.

This led to him staying at home, becoming isolated and self-harming.

With the support of his Community Mental Health Practitioner Shelley, Andy was encouraged to join the Mind Recovery College® – a program that bridges the gap between mental health services and educational programs.

Mind Recovery College clients identify their own learning needs and choose from a suite of courses, which are typically delivered by peer facilitators who use their lived experience of mental health and recovery to inform their work.

These courses cover a range of topics such as self-care, skills for life, work, communication, relationships and understanding addictive behaviour and mental ill-health.

“From the Mind Recovery College, I learnt about different forms of communication, the relationship between food and mental health, and about the mental health challenges we can face over the holiday period,” Andy said.

“The courses have brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me to participate in community settings. I have noticed a big improvement in my social skills and now I’m able to speak up in the company of others.”

Andy has come so far with his mental health and self-confidence that he recently started co-facilitating Mind Recovery College courses with Shelley.

“I presented a session called ‘What is recovery?’ – it talked about the different definitions of mental health recovery, participating in activities, and overcoming cravings and self-harm.

“It was a nervous experience, but I felt confident with the support of Shelley and I wanted to take the opportunity to move outside my comfort zone.”

Shelley says Andy’s recovery journey has been long but and he has worked very hard to progress to where he is today.

“Andy has worked really hard on his social skills and communicating with new people; he extended himself by attending the Mind Recovery College and practicing being around and talking with others. This led to increased confidence and self-worth,” Shelley said.

“Andy has been able to use skills learnt through the Mind Recovery College in his everyday life and he’s now looking towards a brighter future.”

Andy now plans to study veterinary nursing at TAFE, and, thanks to the skills gained through the Mind Recovery College, he feels confident and safe to take the next steps in his life.

Find more information on the Mind Recovery College or call Mind Connect on 1300 286 463.