Last week I had the privilege of attending WRAP Facilitator training in Mankato. WRAP, which stands for the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, is an evidence-based program developed by Mary Ellen Copeland that works as a tool for anyone seeking to cultivate or maintain wellness in his or her own life. Before attending facilitator training I took WRAP Seminar 1 which walks you through the basics of the program and allows participants to think through what creating their own WRAP would look like. WRAP, I learned, was originally designed to serve as a tool for people who have experienced mental illness and are looking for a plan that allows them to take control of their recovery. WRAP allows anyone to create an individualized plan for his or her wellness without focusing on illness. While this might not seem like such a radical concept, the idea that anyone with a mental health diagnosis could ever recover, be well, or take responsibility for their wellness is a radical one. Anyone who has ever received a mental health diagnosis can attest to the helplessness and hopelessness that come with it. WRAP takes this long-institutionalized lack of agency and completely throws it out the window. It provides the tools for absolutely anyone to take control of their wellness and achieve recovery.
WRAP training, in addition to teaching an amazing wellness tool, served as a safe gathering space for folks interested in mental well being to share stories and resources. It was painful to hear about miscommunications with law enforcement and healthcare providers that happened during people’s mental health crises leading to emotional trauma and even physical harm. At the same time, people shared inspiring experiences about helpful resources available at the local and state levels. These conversations really got me thinking about what we can do here in Rice County to support mental health and well being. Many trainees talked about the importance of having peer groups in their area that met regularly to talk about mental health. Connections get made through these groups leading to a type of healing that cannot be provided from healthcare professionals alone. Here in Rice County I believe that it is time that we followed suit. Please check the Growing Up Healthy website (www.growinguphealthy.org) for updates about when we will be offering a WRAP training here in Northfield (it will be soon!). I believe coming together to learn about this tool will be an excellent way to begin cultivating a local peer support network and provide a forum where we can learn from each other and work together to advocate for quality mental health resources in Rice County.
Lastly, and perhaps what I find most awesome about WRAP, is its flexibility to work in any situation. Creating a plan to maintain wellness does not only apply to mental health. People shared stories about creating a WRAP for an intense situation such as the birth of a child. We also discussed using WRAP to ensure the health and vitality of a workplace or organization. It makes sense to identify the tools that keep your organization running well and to identify signs that may mean it is starting to head towards trouble. But how seldom do we actually take the time to think about these things and write them down? WRAP provides a tried and true formula that guides you through doing just that. For me, WRAP provided a simple, flexible tool to cultivate wellness in my life. I am thrilled to have completed facilitator training allowing me to officially share this tool with my Rice County community.