by Danielle Perron-Roach, MSW, RSW
About ten years ago, a social work graduate student asked me how I was able to work within an institutional setting which historically has gone against most of our professional core values and ethics.
“Hope” was my answer. Hope that my contributions would help the mental health system progress towards a more person-centered approach and away from a paternalistic and dogmatic one. Some have warned me that my objective to change the system is not realistic and could lead to the deterioration of my own mental health. However, on November 3, 2013, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Jan Eliasson, upon receiving an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa, which I attended, remarked that one person cannot do “everything” to change the world, but at least they can do “something”. These remarks inspired me greatly in believing that my hope is worth pursuing. If my interventions can help to change the life of only one person, I will have met my objective.
Fortunately, in addition to my training as a social worker, I strongly believe that WRAP has provided me the tools required to facilitate this change. In fact, I now have proof that my hope prevailed. In addition to hope, the WRAP Key Concepts of personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy, and support have helped bring about positive change within my institutional organization. In fact, I finished training, in my French mother-tongue, 8 new WRAP Facilitators last week at the hospital.
What symbolizes for me an even greater accomplishment is the fact that the training was supported not only by Hôpital Montfort’s Mental Health Program, but also supported by Centre Prométhée, Hôpital Montfort’s Center for Continuing Professional Development.
As Winston Churchill so eloquently stated once, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.” My journey is entering a new chapter. My new hope is that people working as professionals in the mental health system learn the importance of unconditional high regard in their practice, and recognize that the interpersonal relationship they foster with others is more important to facilitate change then the therapeutic model they apply.
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.