Kogarah's Recovery College is helping people build positive mental health

Lesson in well-being: A Recovery College is giving people an opportunity to strengthen their outlook on life. Picture: John Veage
Lesson in well-being: A Recovery College is giving people an opportunity to strengthen their outlook on life. Picture: John Veage

People battling mental health can benefit from a free community college where learning about positive well-being is a classroom target.

Kogarah’s Recovery College, which is part of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, is helping youth get back on their feet.

The college is the first of its kind in NSW, and is based on a model developed in the UK and US.

More than 800 people have attended free courses at the college since it opened in 2014.

There are about 100 short courses, which are also held at Jannali.

Topics include exploring anxiety, depression, understanding trauma for women, exploring alcohol and drug use, introduction to mindfulness, and making and keeping connections.

College manager Arna Rathgen says the aim is to support people who experience mental health concerns including carers and families, to help them in their journey towards healing.

“All courses are co-written and co-facilitated by a health professional and a person who has experienced mental health concerns,” Ms Rathgen said.

“People are taught to become experts in self-care and achieve the goals and ambitions they set for themselves. 

“For many people this is gaining a better understanding about how to manage mental health concerns and how to get into further study or the workforce.” 

Student, Kayln Bents, 24, is a college success story.

Since 2015 she has completed 10 courses and works at the college as a part-time administration officer and peer educator.

She is about to start her double degree in journalism and politics.

“Three years ago I didn’t think tertiary education was a possibility,” Ms Bents said.

“But being a student got me back in the classroom, got me to think critically, and to listen and learn again. So now university is not that daunting.”

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