The Way WRAP Works

Executive Summary

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP®) is a personalized wellness and recovery system born out of and rooted in the principle of self-determination. In 2010, WRAP® was recognized by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence-based practice and listed in the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices ( Researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) released the results of a rigorous study that demonstrated significantly positive behavioral health outcomes for individuals with severe and persistent mental health challenges who participated in peer-led WRAP® groups. Research studies on WRAP® from UIC cited that positive outcomes were tied to the fidelity of the WRAP® facilitation model designed by Mary Ellen Copeland and developed by the Copeland Center.

Today, WRAP® is being widely implemented by behavioral health systems, however, significant compromises to the resources provided and fidelity in implementing WRAP® is falling short of the quality people in recovery deserve. People in recovery deserve the best services we have to offer!

By Eric C. Larson

The nature of self-care is that there is no external validation from society that you are doing something of value. Hence the tendency to relinquish self-care as a rite of passage to work hard is a historical trend. Unfortunately some of my career success has been built upon the self-made premise that I show up consistently even when I don’t feel well.  Granted sometimes I feel better if I just get out the door and push through morning malaise but other times it is more distinct and this is where I lack awareness.

by Carol Bailey Floyd

Integrating gratitude into your WRAP is a very effective way of empowering it.  Most people know that gratitude is a good thing, but not too many people realize how extremely powerful it is. Studies conducted by Michael McCullough, PhD and Robert A. Emmons PhD uncovered many benefits of gratitude.  They found that grateful people are more optimistic, energetic, determined, interested, joyful, and enthusiastic.  Those are reasons enough to cultivate gratitude in our lives!  But here are even more benefits:

Grateful people feel stronger about handling challenges, have fewer illnesses, get more sleep, and exercise more.  They are more likely to help other people, are less envious, have more clear thinking, and have better resilience.  People who are grateful experience less stress, have a higher immune response, are less possessive, have closer family ties, make more progress towards goals, and have longer lives!!

These benefits of gratitude can make your WRAP stronger and even more effective.  Practicing gratitude is a terrific wellness tool, and when it is turned into an action plan, it can be quite amazing. 

by Matthew Federici, Executive Director

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan can “Save Lives!”  I recently attended a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) Wellness Steering Committee, when it became clear that we need to shine a light on the whole health approach that WRAP® is in the lives of so many of us.  The SAMHSA Wellness Steering committee is a multidisciplinary Steering Committee representing “consumers”, providers, and researchers guiding national strategies to tackle the issues of whole health for people who are served by the mental health system as a result of alarming number of people with mental health diagnosis who are having significant medical issues including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and are receiving inadequate access to medical care.

Mary Ellen,
I realize you must be an extremely busy person so you can read this when you have some time on your hands. I was twelve years old when I was diagnosed Bipolar. I was on heavy medication schedules and in one mental hospital or another my entire childhood. By the time I was thirty-one years old, I opted not to have children as my doctors explained to me it would be irresponsible for someone as mentally ill as I was to bring children into the world. I was a recluse and eventually became a full blown agoraphobic. So there I was; childless, poor, alone, overweight and completely lost in a world that was sold to me from a very young age.

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.