West Virginia has developed a unique initiative for implementing WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) for children across the state. Conceived and spearheaded by David Sanders, Consumer Affairs Executive Assistant of the West Virginia Mental Health Consumers Association (WVMHCA), “The Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) for Youth Project” is, to the best of my knowledge, the first of its kind in the country. One of its primary goals is to establish and maintain a pool of trained individuals to coordinate and provide assistance to children in developing their own WRAPs using A WRAP Workbook for Kids by Mary Ellen Copeland (with assistance from Esther Smith and Hawk Wheelock).
The Children’s Division of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities invested in the project, making it possible for mental health professionals to be selected for training and to roll out the project.
These professionals from all over West Virginia came together in Charleston, West Virginia in March 2009 for a three day regular WRAP workshop with Copeland Center facilitators, Debbie Anderson and myself. The goal was that each participant create their own WRAP so they would be able to work with the children and their parents more knowledgeably. Personal WRAP development of the individuals in the group was wholeheartedly enthusiastic.
They realized that by having and using a WRAP themselves, they would be better able to coordinate with others as the project progressed.
Now the mental health professionals are in the process of introducing A WRAP Workbook for Kids to children in schools, after-school programs, and communities throughout West Virginia. Interested youth will receive one-on-one support and encouragement for completing their own WRAPs, In addition, families will be encouraged to be a natural support network for the children as they go through the workbook.
The West Virginia Mental Health Planning Council, Legal Aid of West Virginia, WVMHCA, Mountain State Parents and Adolescent Network and West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources all joined forces to help make the “Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) for Youth Project” become a reality.
West Virginia is very excited about this new initiative, and hopes that other states implement similar programs in their states also.
I would like to extend sincere gratitude to David Sanders for all his perseverance and vision in making this innovative project start to unfold.
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.