9 March 2022

Mind Australia will lead more than 20 new mental health retreats this year, providing specialised support and important respite for South Australians experiencing mental health challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recovery Retreats, first launched in South Australia in 2021, provide a unique opportunity for people with mental health challenges to experience time away from home while reflecting on how to build wellbeing in their lives in a safe, supported and flexible environment.

Recovery Retreats range from three to four day stays within 90 minutes’ drive of metropolitan Adelaide, where participants receive high quality 24/7 support, individual accommodation and recreational and educational opportunities.

Mind Australia lead practitioner Lauren Marasco, who leads Recovery Retreats, said they offer a “holistic and inclusive experience” to clients mental health challenges.

“We meet with clients prior to the Recovery Retreat to discuss their mental health in detail, including potential triggers, coping strategies and support options,” Ms Marasco said.

“We hear so many stories about the positive experience from clients, including the ways in which they were able to better manage their diagnosed mental health condition as a result of the experience.

“These are often followed by success stories from their families and carers. The retreats have a genuine positive impact. Clients also learn from each other. They make positive connections and build confidence.”

Recovery Retreats can be accessed through a client’s NDIS plan under Short Term Accommodation. They can also be self-funded. Importantly, the Recovery Retreats also provide respite for carers of South Australians experiencing mental health challenges.

Adelaide resident Marlon (surname withheld) has schizophrenia and has attended three Recovery Retreats supported by NDIS funding. He described the retreats as a “new experience away from home”.

“The Recovery Retreat provided an opportunity to go to places that I wouldn’t be able to get to otherwise,” the 28-year-old said.

“It’s a good opportunity and experience to get out somewhere different to where I currently am.

“I visited Hahndorf, West Beach and Victor Harbour, which helped with my mental health. I had less mental health struggles and less stress on the retreat. Meeting new people is the big standout for me and the activities really inspired me and provided good motivation.”

The inaugural Recovery Retreats in 2021 proved incredibly popular, filling to capacity and often requiring waiting lists. More than 50 people attended Mind’s Recovery Retreats in their first year, prompting the announcement of 24 new retreats this year.

The first three retreats for the year were filled before the 2022 program was even officially launched, highlighting the need for this important service.

Mind Australia CEO Gill Callister said the pandemic had highlighted the need for a “variety of easily accessible mental health services to provide people with the support they need".

“Mind’s Recovery Retreats, generally funded by clients’ NDIS packages, address a critical need for respite, as proven by the popularity of the inaugural retreats in 2021.

“Our research shows community based psychosocial support reduces hospitalisations and promotes sustained recovery for people with mental health and wellbeing challenges.

“We are committed to providing services which support South Australians living with the day-to-day impacts of mental ill-health, as well as their families, friends and carers.

We designed these retreats in partnership with our clients and their families so as to make the difference people want to see in their lives.

Ms Callister said the retreats actively build resilience, encourage community participation and provide invaluable respite.

“We aim to provide practical and motivational support that helps people to develop the skills they need to improve the quality of their lives. This means we need to help them feel strong, healthy and in control - our Recovery Retreats are a prime example of this mission in action.

“With the right support, people can manage mental illness rather than be defined by it.”

This year, Recovery Retreats will be held in Adelaide CBD, Victor Harbour, Mannum, Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and more.

About Recovery Retreats

Retreats feature:

  • high quality 24/7 support
  • individual accommodation (no group/shared accommodation)
  • help with daily living and personal care
  • opportunities for those participating to design the structure of recreational activities and workshops (for example, life coaching) throughout the retreat.
  • food included.

All retreats will be governed by the latest government health directives to provide a COVID safe environment.