Journey to Strength

A program for people with mental illness

Journey to Strength bike riding

The YMCA offers expertise, practical information & guidance on program development for people living with mental illness.

Specifically working with the mental health sector, the project developed a best practice model for working in residential camping environments for people with mental illness and culminated in a ‘how to guide’ of the do’s and don’ts for working with the mental health industry in the delivery of camping programs.

Initially called the Mental Health Access and Participation and Industry Mentoring Project, the Journey to Strength program was funded by Sport and Recreation Victoria to address the inequities experienced by groups of people with additional needs. The pilot was evaluated by the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Youth Mental Health and Orygen Youth Health Research Centre.

The research found significant improvements for participants’ in self- esteem, mastery and social connectedness. The camps worked! Plus there were secondary impacts of supporting collaboration between two very different sectors ‘recreation’ and ‘mental health’.

If you are considering running a camp for people with mental health issues, or even if you have never thought about it before, we encourage you to take the first step because the rewards for yourself, those you work with and the participants will be beyond your expectations. We hope this manual supports your endeavours. And otherwise, the YMCA team are more than happy to consult you through this journey to make it a success.

Download a copy of the guide and evaluation report to get started in organising your camp for people with mental illness.

The YMCA team can also provide professional advice to develop experiences to suit many different situations, budget or environments including part-day, full day or residential journeys.

Contact us today at for further information. We look forward to collaborating with you.