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Successful trial of ACT mental health Recovery College comes to an end


Media release

An extremely successful trial of a mental health Recovery College in the ACT comes to an end June 30, 2021. Students, educators, and others involved are now passionate advocates for a permanent Recovery College in Canberra.

Dianna Smith, ACT Recovery College Manager, says “We know that Recovery Colleges are tried and trusted, evidence-based services that have been shown to make a difference in many communities around the world. We also know that it is a service that is desperately needed in the ACT.”

“The two-year trial has allowed us to understand how to conduct this model in a sustainable way, and we look forward to seeing this model implemented in future, for the benefit of the Canberra community.”

The Mental Health Community Coalition ACT (MHCC ACT) facilitated the ACT Recovery College Trial.

Bec Cody, MHCC ACT CEO, states “What makes this mental health recovery model so powerful is that students self-direct their learnings in small, safe and supportive classes of peers, facilitated by someone with lived experience in an equal partnership with subject matter experts.

“The staff and volunteers of the Recovery College have done a fantastic job. Their passion, dedication and professionalism has made possible the many positive outcomes for people who have participated in it.

“We commend the leadership shown by the ACT Government in funding this innovative and evidence-based model for mental health recovery over the last two-years. What we need now from Government is a commitment for a Recovery College to become a permanent fixture in the ACT.

All courses offered during this trial were fully subscribed, most with wait lists. Experience in the ACT and elsewhere is that Recovery Colleges support people’s recovery from mental health challenges to the extent they go on to engage more deeply with their communities including through employment and study.”

Feedback from students support this: “I am extremely grateful that the college exists and that the classes are free. What I have learnt as a student is invaluable, and now working as a co-facilitator as well has provided me with career opportunities I never thought I would have.”

“We put a lot of effort into finding a way to continue the Recovery College services beyond the end of the trial but sadly this was just not possible at this stage” says Bec Cody. “MHCC ACT will continue to advocate to the ACT Government, including the Minister for Mental Health, Emma Davidson, for a permanent Recovery College in the ACT.”

Quotes from ACT Recovery College participants for media use:

(names as stated may be used, some quotes are anon.)

My experience with the Recovery College has been extremely positive. Taking part in educational, reflective and creative courses has increased my knowledge about mental health and distress, decreased my feelings of isolation and shame about my own mental health challenges, and offered me inspiration to pursue meaningful goals aligned with my own values. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the college community as it has provided a unique service that complements medical and psychological care. I had long been looking for a community-based service that would connect me with ‘fellow travellers’ on the road to recovery and wellbeing. The Recovery College was the missing piece of my biopsychosocial care package. Thank-you for the vision, hope and motivation you have instilled in me. – Ann-Marie

Collectively, the staff built a safe, inclusive space where all students felt valued as they learnt new skills to manage the issues they faced in their lives. As an educator in the Buried in Treasures program who was very apprehensive about working with Zoom, I always felt very valued and supported. Working as an educator at the College was a growthful experience. Peter Wise

I am extremely grateful that the college exists and that the classes are free. What I have learnt as a student is invaluable, and now working as a co-facilitator as well has provided me with career opportunities I never thought I would have. – End of year feedback 2019

The College was so incredibly crucial to my recovery journey. The sense of belonging I felt by attending was what drew me to the College, then COVID hit and it felt like our world was falling apart. Having those Social calls on Zoom was like a breath of fresh air to reconnect with those who understood my day to day levels of anxiety before the pandemic. The staff at the College are all so wonderfully supportive and encouraging, it’s a real credit to the whole team and project. – End of year survey 2020

My experience as a student at the ACT Recovery College has been really humbling and positive. I have been encouraged to grow as a person in a relaxed and supportive peer setting and given the autonomy and respect that often I don’t receive in the more medicalised model of mental health ‘treatment’. – End of year survey 2019

Media Contact: Bec Cody, Chief Executive Officer

(02) 5104 7716,

Communications Officer: Alison Hall, (02) 5104 7711

Find out more about the ACT Recovery College at

Read the ACT Recovery College Blog

MHCC ACT is the peak body for community-managed mental health services in the ACT. Find out more about MHCC ACT at

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