You and I have been on a journey, not just the past four weeks, but for more than three decades. Our journey of recovery has traversed valleys of despair and taken us atop hillsides of hope. There have been unpleasant detours and unexpected surprises. There have been laughter and tears. And now I’ve come to a fork in the road.
I turned 75 this year. I have children and grandchildren who need me, and I am honored to be their port in a storm. My husband and I need some time to relax and smell the roses.
In life, there comes a time to strike out on your own and a time to ask for help. Recognizing that I needed help developing a curriculum for my forthcoming book, WRAP and Peer Support, I turned to Advocates for Human Potential, Inc. (AHP). Their very name speaks volumes about the work they do. AHP staff helped edit a previous curriculum I wrote for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), so I was familiar with the quality of their work. I believed they had the subject matter expertise for this new task. What I didn’t realize was I would find an answer to a prayer I wasn’t aware I had uttered.
I first reached out to AHP in early January to seek help with the new curriculum. But the more we talked, the more I realized that AHP might be able to do much of the other work being done by WRAP and recovery Books, which publishes all the resources you have found here over the years.
Basically, WRAP and Recovery Books was me, Mary Ellen, and my husband and business partner, Ed Anthes. Ed ran the business end of things, and I wrote…and wrote…and wrote. I created new products, reviewed and updated older ones, and helped answer mail from around the world. And we had some help in doing all of this from time to time. Over the years, so many people have been helped by WRAP. There are so many stories that have touched me in profound ways.
To some people, Mary Ellen Copeland and WRAP are synonymous, but I have never seen it that way. WRAP never belonged to me—it belonged to those courageous people who gathered on that cold week in Vermont, and then on several full days over the next month, to hammer out the details of what they called the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. I have merely been its shepherd, guiding and shaping it but never changing its essence. I have been privileged to carry the message of WRAP to the four corners of the globe, never forgetting that this all started because I wanted to know how others got and stayed well. How lucky I am to have had so many generous teachers!
So, the germ of an idea began to form in my mind. Perhaps I could sell WRAP and Recovery Books to AHP. To do that, I believed, AHP needed to not only have the expertise to write, edit, and sell books—many people can do that, and I’ve met quite a few of them over the years.
No, to be good stewards of WRAP, they needed to have a vision, a mission, and—most important—a passion for this work. WRAP may not belong to me, just as our children do not belong to us, but as with our children, I wanted to protect it and see it flourish.
Ed and I began meeting with staff at AHP, first with just a few folks—subject matter experts, writers, and instructional designers. Then we met with a larger group, including marketers, the chief operating officer, and the founder and president. They were warm and welcoming, and I certainly saw the capacity to continue this work. But more than that, I saw the caring. I saw the passion in their eyes when they talked about recovery. I felt the compassion in their hearts when they spoke about preserving the legacy of WRAP and the central role it has played in elevating mental health recovery to the national stage.
Ed and I talked excitedly about these meetings on our way home to Vermont from AHP’s office in Albany, New York, and its headquarters in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Of course, you don’t make a decision this important overnight. We continued to meet with AHP. We talked more. We became more and more convinced that WRAP would find a receptive home at AHP. There is significant alignment between the missions of the two organizations and the passion of the people behind both.
For 30 years, AHP has focused on changing health care systems to improve individuals’ lives. They advance the principles of prevention, wellness, and self-care that are central to WRAP. They promote recovery and community integration for people who are experiencing homelessness, who have behavioral health conditions, who have been affected by trauma, and who are involved with the criminal justice system. Both our organizations are committed to advancing evidenced-based practices that restore hope, dignity, and empowerment to individuals while supporting the providers that serve them.
As of July 1, AHP formally acquired WRAP and Recovery Books. I will serve as a senior advisor. The Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery will remain a separate, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting wellness, recovery, and peer support through training, technical assistance, and advocacy. While working with AHP, the Copeland Center will continue to promote WRAP, offering training to WRAP facilitators and advanced-level facilitators. I will work closely with the Copeland Center as I have since it was formed in 2005.
What does this mean for you? It means that the journey continues. It means that WRAP will be able to grow and evolve while remaining true to its core. It means that you can count on AHP to produce and distribute the books, manuals, curricula, and other educational products, along with a website, mobile app, elearning curriculum, and extensive email list that reaches approximately 30,000 of you each week. It means, in the words of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
I thank you with all my heart for everything you have given me over the years and wish you good health, much happiness, and a rich and rewarding recovery.
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.