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Wellness Recovery Action Plans

cropped shot of two people working on the signing of a document - WRAP

Sometimes, people with mental health diagnoses can start to feel like their diagnoses and the professionals who are treating them start to take over their lives. This can be frustrating and even impede progress. A Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) is a document that empowers people with mental illness to have more choices and a stronger voice in their own treatment.

Who Can Have a WRAP?

A WRAP can be used to help a single person or a whole family to cope. While it was initially designed to support people with mental health diagnoses, WRAP has also been used to manage:

  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Difficult life circumstances
  • Trauma
  • Differently abled learners
  • Justice system involvement
  • Veteran specific struggles

There is no age limit on WRAPs, so they can be used for children, teens, adults, and seniors.

Who Can Facilitate WRAP Creation?

While adults can attend training sessions to become certified to facilitate WRAP creation, individuals and families can also take it upon themselves to design their own WRAP. If a trained facilitator isn’t helping to create a WRAP, it might be helpful to access one or more of the books written by the Copeland Center, which was started by Mary Ellen Copeland, who created the WRAP framework.

Parts of a WRAP

A WRAP plan to support a person with one or more mental health diagnoses recognizes that a person is not defined by their condition and will have some really great days. The WRAP begins here. The individual or family can assemble a team of support people, such as:

  • Extended family
  • Friends
  • Teachers
  • Coaches
  • Mentors
  • Allies
  • Clergy
  • Social Worker
  • Probation Officer
  • Peer Support

This team will list the positive traits that define the person on their best day. Perhaps they are funny, able to clearly articulate their thoughts and feelings, organized, slow to anger, etc. The WRAP then describes what the person needs to do on a regular basis to maintain this best version of themselves. For a lot of people with mental health struggles, these things might include:

  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Eating healthy
  • Exercising
  • Taking medications properly
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Keeping appointments with medical and mental health professionals

When Things Start to Go Wrong

The next pieces of the WRAP focus on the first signs of imbalance. The plan lists changes in behavior that might appear and what steps should be taken to help the person return to a more ideal scenario. These early stages often require more action on the part of the individual and their family and friends, and less from their medical or mental health team.

If There Is Continuing Trouble

If the situation does not improve and continues to worsen, the WRAP includes more steps to try to correct the situation. Professional support will likely become involved, as the person may have less ability to get themselves back on track. If things continue to worsen, the person may need to be hospitalized.

When Hospitalization Is Necessary

As much as most people don’t want to go into the hospital, there may be times when inpatient mental health services are the best option. Because many people feel like hospitalization takes away their voice and their agency, having a WRAP in place ahead of time is important. A WRAP can designate who the person wants to be part of their support team immediately before, during, and after hospitalization. They can determine ahead of time who will take care of pets or plants while they are in the hospital, who will check in via phone during the hospital stay, and with whom they will stay a night or two upon their return home. The WRAP can also specify which hospital they prefer, which doctors they want to avoid, or which treatment methods are counter-productive for them.

After the Crisis

A WRAP also acknowledges that crises end and people get better. The final stage of the WRAP addresses the steps that an individual or family wants to take after a crisis to regain their best life.

A Living Document

One of the best things about the WRAP is that it is a living document, which means that it can be modified at any time. This is very important because people with mental health diagnoses continue to change and grow after their initial diagnosis. They learn new ways to manage their symptoms and may also discover that what once worked no longer helps them anymore. The plan can evolve with the person.

Who Gets a Copy of the WRAP?

Because a WRAP is created in an informal setting, it is not required that the person share it with anyone. For the WRAP to be effective, however, it is recommended that it be shared with the individual’s medical and mental health treatment team and any support people who are part of the plan.

At Highland Hospital, we value our clients and their support systems and work hard to ensure they are part of each step of the treatment process.

Are you in need of mental health treatment near Huntington, WV? For more information about Highland Hospital and the services we offer, please call and speak with someone today at (304) 322-3037. Highland can help.

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