Joel Pilgrim is the Founder and CEO of mental health charity, the Waves of Wellness (WOW) Foundation. Joel and his team are pioneering surf therapy intervention in mental health, breaking down the stigma and barriers to accessing traditional therapeutic support. Joel is a mental health Occupational Therapist, specialising in early psychosis and rehabilitation, where his passion for innovating in the mental health space was born.
WOW’s learn-to-surf program focuses on functional recovery and acts as a complementary addition to the sometimes intimidating clinical setting of mental health services. WOW operates programs in 3 states around Australia, and is a founding member of the International Surf Therapy Organization (ISTO). Joel was a NSW finalist for Young Australian of the Year 2018, for his dedication to mental health promotion, and is a 2018 Westpac Social Change Fellow. Joel has written a children’s book, Stand Up Stand Out, to help people from a young age think about mental health differently. Joel is currently completing his Masters of Research, at the University of New South Wales, exploring the impacts of surf therapy on mental health and wellbeing.