Focus On Recovery-United, Inc. (FOR-U) is an Independent Peer Operated/Peer Support Non-Profit Organization staffed entirely by paid and volunteer consumers who have been trained as facilitators of Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan™ (WRAP). We are funded by the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to promote positive change in the lives of Connecticut residents who experience (or who have experienced) psychiatric (and/or addiction) symptoms.
Our organization is built on the Key Recovery Concepts of: Hope, Personal Responsibility, Education, Self-Advocacy and Support. We embrace the belief that ultimately we (consumers) are the experts in our own recovery and must take personal responsibility for getting well. Nobody can make the decision for us. We need to see other “ex-mental (and/or “ex-addict”) patients” living full and purposeful lives so we can embrace hope. We also need people who believe we can recover. Focus On Recovery-United, Inc. (FOR-U) is offering a way for people in recovery, those with an interest in recovery, and anyone who wants to enhance the creative potential of their lives to learn from one another what helps. Through symptom management and planning ahead for possible crises, we encourage possibilities rather than limitations. The fact is that people with psychiatric (and/or addiction) symptoms can get well and stay well for long periods of time.
We offer Culturally Sensitive Mental Health Recovery Education, Seminars, WRAP Groups, Informational Sessions, Workshops, Trainings, and Community Presentations in English and/or Spanish at our Training Center in East Hartford and throughout the State of Connecticut. All our services are free and no referrals are needed. Ms. Copeland has trained 21 FOR-U stakeholders as WRAP Facilitators including three who identify as Bilingual/Bicultural (Spanish/English), one as Asian American, two as African American, and three as Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender. In June 2003, Ms. Copeland and her staff certified the FOR-U Executive Director, Heather McDonald, as a WRAP Facilitator Trainer. It is planned that FOR-U will hold its first facilitator training late spring 2004 making this certification more accessible to our stakeholders by removing the financial barriers involved in attending the trainings offered by Ms. Copeland in Vermont.
To date, over 50 WRAP Trainings and Workshops have been offered around the state, including five monolingual (Spanish), and over 200 people have graduated. In addition, over 2,000 people have attended Seminars, Informational, Educational, and Community Presentations given by FOR-U at a variety of locations such as, Soup Kitchens, Social Clubs, Community Mental Health Centers, Conferences, and Consumer-Sponsored Events. Upon completion of WRAP Trainings and Workshops, participants have been invited to start their own Peer Support Groups to continue working on their WRAP Plans by sharing Ideas, Recovery Wellness Tools, Support, Education, and Experiences with each other. To date seven Peer Support Groups have begun around the State of Connecticut.
The FOR-U office hosts a Recovery Resource Center that contains literature and other materials such as audio tapes and videos pertaining to Wellness Tools in several languages including: English, Spanish, Hebrew, German, French, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. Computers with Internet Access are available for participants to research available resources, network with others in recovery, and participate in an International WRAP E-Group that brings together consumers from all over the world who are participating in WRAP. For more information: http://www.focusonrecovery.org/site/
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.