Articles

Know illness - know what wellness is worth. The single most important lesson diabetes has taught me is that self-care is a priority. The wisdom around living with Diabetes is hard won. WRAP helps me to capture that learning and to build upon habits necessary to maintain my life.

by Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D

Many of you have taken WRAP classes or been part of a WRAP group. Perhaps you facilitate a WRAP group. Maybe you are a health care provider who supports people in using their WRAP or a system administrator who makes it possible for people to learn about WRAP.

Learning about WRAP is an eye-opening experience. Recently a man in a group I was leading in Japan said, “You mean I have been living with this for over 20 years and there are simple safe things I can do and steps I can take to help myself. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?’ For many people, an introduction to WRAP is the beginning of understanding that that there are many things they can do to facilitatetheir own recovery and wellness, that they have power and control. This can be a huge change after years of feeling totally dependent on others.

by Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D

How are the stressful, frightening events of these times affecting you? Are you having trouble sleeping? Are you avoiding food, or munching at will and putting on extra pounds? Do you feel anxious and fearful much of the time? Are your symptoms more severe or harder than usual to manage? Do you have distressing and troubling feelings that you have never had before? Are you constantly losing things, noticing that your memory is poor, that you are more irritable than usual? Perhaps you are feeling tempted by an addictive behavior that has been under control for a very long time? If so, you are not alone. People around the world are feeling the stress of these difficult times and it is showing itself in unexpected ways.

Hope for a new tomorrow
Filled with joy and peace
Filled with knowing
You are so worth it
You are so valuable
And you are so unique
There is no one like you
Rejoice in who you are and
Where you are going
Moving onwards and upwards
To new things, to brighter things
To exciting things
Hope for a new tomorrow

When Linda Meyer shared the story of the impact of Hurricane Sandy on her, her husband and seven children, including one diagnosed with autism, she actually said it in a lighthearted manner. The impact included no power for nine days and then losing power her family’s house, van and truck. Soon after the storm, before the damage could be repaired, Meyer fell and badly sprained her ankle. “I have to say it’s my WRAP that helped me through all of this. It’s what really kept me balanced and focused,” she said, referring to her Wellness Recovery Action Plan.

This summer (2012), a contingent of high school students from Bellerose Composite in St. Albert and Louis St. Laurent School in Edmonton participated in a pilot project that is aimed at empowering youth to be proactive in understanding issues surrounding mental health and wellness. In conjunction with Alberta Health Services and The Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery, the students took part in a series of professional development activities called WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan).

How do we feel about use of the term "mental illness"? The phrase is prevalent in mental health and may continue to be broadly used for quite some time. To the extent that its use destigmatizes (because it can mean "I am not crazy" and "I am not bad"), it is a good thing. To the extent that it validates the uniqueness of someone's experience and helps providers be empathetic, it is a good thing. To the extent that it helps find statistically valid and empirically confirmed biochemical or genetic aspects of mental health problems to create a wider range of effective treatment tools, it is a good thing.

But the New Freedom Commission and Uniformed Services Package say mental health care must be transformed to reflect the principles of the Recovery Model.

This...information is from studies designed to find out how people who experience psychiatric symptoms deal with these symptoms and help themselves feel better. The researcher and the study participants are people who have been told that they have a psychiatric or mental illness. Not all of these ideas work for everyone -- use the ones that feel right to you.

There is hope.  People get well, stay well for long periods of time, and do the things they want to do with their lives. Self-determination, personal responsibility, empowerment, and self-advocacy are expected outcomes of  WRAP. Insist that you be treated as an equal with dignity, compassion, mutual respect, and unconditional high regard, a unique, special individual, including acceptance of diversity with relation to culture, ethnicity, language, religion, race, gender, age, disability, sexual preference, and “readiness” issues, and treat others the same way. 

The first step in developing your own Wellness Recovery Action Plan™, is to develop a Wellness Toolbox. This is a listing of things you have done in the past, or could do, to help yourself stay well; and, things you could do to help yourself feel better when you are not doing well. You will use these "tools" to develop your own WRAP.

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