Reset Project aims to improve mental health

A group of Southern Grampians residents will get to reset their lives after the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a new local initiative.

The Reset Project being introduced by Western District Health Service (WDHS) will incorporate various adventure activities to measure and improve participants’ overall health and community engagement in the wake of the pandemic.

The program has been developed by WDHS Mental Health Team Leader Philip Wilson who says it is part of the heath service’s desire to improve mental health in the region.

Mr Wilson is spearheading the four-month intensive therapy initiative and is seeking 12 people aged 18-65 to take part.

Participants will engage in weekly meetings, supplemented by regular weekend activities such as bush adenture therapy, equine therapy and surf therapy.

Mr Wilson, who had a background in outdoor education before becoming a psychologist, said the program would use evidence-informed therapies.

“It’s about re-setting back into healthy living, removing isolation and improving participants’ sense of community.”

The program kicks off on February 8, with the first activity scheduled for February 10 where the group will be challenged to walk the Grampians Peak Trail. Over the course of the project, participants will do three further overnight hikes to see how much of the trail can be completed.

“It’s not about trying to get from start to end, it’s about the team knowing their skills and limitations and seeing how far they can get,” Mr Wilson said. “Part of bush adventure therapy is about setting ambitious but achievable goals and enjoying the benefits of being in the natural environment.”

Participants will also have the opportunity to undertake surfing therapy at Port Fairy, combining surfing lessons with individual mentoring, social skill development, and group discussions to boost self-esteem, reduce social isolation, and alleviate depression.

The Reset Project will also include equine therapy, a ground-based approach without actual riding that involves connecting and interacting with horses through touch and speech.

“Horses provide extraordinary emotional support, offering benefits for conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to dementia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” Mr Wilson said.

He added that participants could choose to engage in all three therapy sessions or opt for a blended model.

The program will also introduce a Community Health Action Plan (CHAP), supporting particpants to re-connect with their community.

To be eligible, applicants must live in Southern Grampians Shire, be aged 18-65, and commit to attending weekly sessions at the Frances Hewett Community Centre.

The Reset Project is also operating as an evaluation project in consultation with Barwon Health to review the physical and mental health changes among participants.

For further information about the Reset Project and to apply, visit

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