dc: So, Arna, how did you come to be in the recovery college space?
Arna: After working in clinical roles in mental health for a while, I guess I felt a little limited and so I did community development work with
refugees and then went back into public mental health in a community development role which was really intresting. Of course, a
community development tool is community education which is closely linked with a recovery college kind of model, in the way that you
always work with your community to be delivering and forming the education. So when recovery college came up, it felt like a perfect
move for me!
dc: It sounds like you went back into public mental health with a lot more tools in your bag?
Arna: Yes! & now funnily enough, I have been feeling like I want to be doing direct work again, so the recovery college has taken me back to
that. So it is interesting how the work circles. I want to connect more now with people one on one…I am even jumping into some trauma
informed yoga training and I am really hoping I can bring that work back into the college and create some interesting courses
particularly for one about life beyond trauma.
dc: That sounds ace! So, tricky question but how would you explain a recovery college in one sentence?
Arna: (laughs) It’s not going to be one sentence. Look, it is a place where people can come and learn from one another, people who have
experienced mental distress and can share what they have learnt and also turn to other people to get some guidance, some words of
wisdom to achieve what they want in life. There is also learning from people who have worked in mental health, and them bringing their
knowledge into an educational space.
dc: What value do you think recovery colleges can bring to the community as whole?
Arna: I think that the model of equity and demonstrating how people from a different range of perspectives can bring knowledge about healing
and mental health and recovery. Seeing that work in practice has a real benefit to community. I guess it has the value of the content of the
courses but I actually think that the model and the process is what is transformative and makes change in the broader community and
that’s what we hear people say all the time. Hearing from peers but seeing people work collaboratively and knowing that, that can actually work. It is quite powerful, simple but powerful.
We completely agree, Arna! Simple but powerful.