Mental health plays an important role in our overall wellbeing. Our mental health affects many parts of our lives, including how we think, feel and act, handle stress, relate to others and make choices.
Research has found a strong relationship between physical and mental health. We are more able to live our lives to the fullest when we are free of depression, anxiety, excessive stress and worry, addictions and other psychological problems. Mental health support and strategies can be as important for overall health and wellbeing as regular exercise and eating a balanced diet.
During our lives, many of us may experience the need to support our mental health. We will not be alone. It is estimated that one in five adults have experienced a mental health problem.
Luckily, we can maintain good mental health and manage problems with our mental health in much the same way we manage our physical health. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) program is a great tool to help us accomplish this.
WRAP is designed for people with mental health and other kinds of health challenges who want to attain the highest possible level of wellness. First, people are guided through the process of identifying and understanding their personal wellness resources – or “wellness tools.” Then they are supported in developing their own individualized plan, their WRAP, to use these resources on a daily basis to manage their mental health.
WRAP workshops are a series of sessions that provide a supportive environment where people learn the skills to develop their own WRAP plan. Free workshops are composed of 24 hours of content and are delivered in weekly sessions based on the needs of local participants. Four six-hour sessions, six four-hour sessions, or eight three-hour sessions are all options.
“WRAP is self-empowering,” says Abby Levinsohn, a trained facilitator who uses WRAP herself. “Your plan is all your own initiatives and requests. We are all dealing with very different challenges and WRAP helps us manage and confront those challenges in a personalized way.”
A group of people who had mental health difficulties and struggled to incorporate wellness tools and strategies into their lives developed WRAP in Vermont in 1997. WRAP has proven so successful that it is now used around the world and is recognized as an evidence-based practice by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Click here to watch Mary Ellen Copeland, WRAP founder, discuss the program.
You can read about how WRAP changed one woman’s life on the the UVM Medical Center blog.
Robyn Skiff is a medical home self-management program coordinator at the Community Health Improvement department at the University of Vermont Medical Center.