This is an exciting time for my work in the field of mental heath recovery, and for the work of the Copeland Center for Wellness And Recovery (which represents my work and the findings of my research through education and training). We continue to do the work we have always done, learning from people with a lived experience how they prevent and recover from mental health issues, and then sharing that information with others. However, we are now taking full advantage of technological advances to spread the word about mental health recovery and WRAP as widely as possible. It is exciting to be reaching into the inner cities, the depths of rural America and to the remotest regions around the world with webinars, you tube videos, chat groups, blogs, Facebook pages, e-mail and snail mail newsletters, books, DVDs and superb training events.
My Work and the Work of the Copeland Center
As many of you know, about 30 years ago, I was having a horrific time with severe mental health challenges. My life had become a morass of psychological pain and suffering. I was unable to work and had limited connections with family and friends.
Somehow, in the midst of all of that, and with the help of supportive vocational rehabilitation counselors, I began to study how people like myself could recover and move on with their lives. I wanted the information so I could figure out how I could cope with these overwhelming feelings and behaviors on a day-to-day basis. At that time I was not even thinking about recovery. And I wasn’t thinking about a career in mental health. This was in a time when the word recovery was not used for people with a “psychiatric diagnosis”. It was assumed that “these” people would never get well. Some were even told they would get worse over time. I was.
My focus in this early research was on learning from people, who, like me, experienced horrid “symptoms” that were stealing away our lives. As I began getting back responses from the people I interviewed, I tried the skills and strategies they were using to get by, and I got better and better and better. I started sharing what I learned through writing and workshops. Others wanted to hear what I had to say. So I reached out again, to people who had experienced what I was experiencing, but who had gotten well and stayed well for long periods of time, the people who were not being considered because no one knew about them. And I learned lots more that was helpful to me, and that I thought might be helpful to others.
Now, some thirty years later, I have shared what I have learned with people all over the world and, from what I hear almost daily, it is helping many, many people work on their recovery and move on with their lives, doing the things they want to do and being the kind of people they want to be. I am absolutely delighted.
I am still gathering and sharing this information with others, through developing and distributing easy-to-use resources, and trainings through the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery. That is the focus of my personal work. For instance, right now I am gathering information on how people feel about the effect of supportive relationships on developing and effectively using WRAP. An issue of deep concern to me right now is the use of restraint and seclusion. I am always open to hearing whatever it is that people want to share, and if I think it would be helpful to others, sharing it in any way that I can using the latest technological advances, including trainings, groups, newsletters, websites, social media, and resource development.
In the process of gathering and sharing this information, I have gone into the back wards of state hospitals, forensic units, respite centers, homeless shelters and veteran’s facilities. I have traveled all over the world and spoken to thousands of people in small groups and at large conferences.
In the late 1990’s I began training others to share what I have learned. A few years later I started the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery to take over the training aspects of my work. The Center now has training going on all the time, and I work closely with the Executive Director, Matthew Federici and his staff. We revise what we are doing and how we are doing it based on our most recent feedback from all of you. It is our goal to be responsive to the people who are beginning and working on their recovery and the people who support them in this process. Thousands of people are now trained mental health recovery educators and WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) group facilitators.
My work and the work of the Copeland Center are constantly changing, based on what we hear from you that you need and want, and what works for you. Our work is not the same as it was even 6 months ago.
From the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery
Earlier this year (2010), Matthew Federici was hired as the Executive Director of the Copeland Center for Wellness and Recovery. Matthew is deeply committed to the values and ethics on which the Copeland Center was founded, and which have made recovery and wellness possible for so many people. Matthew and his staff collaborate with me and my staff to insure that the information and trainings we share around the world adequately represents what people with lived experience need and want.
The center has, at its core, a strong cadre of trainers who are spreading the word about mental health recovery and WRAP as defined by my on-going research. We have many, many training events going on at all times, some of them with a new format to address our most recent findings in this ever-changing field.
Please contact the Copeland Center if you are planning education and training events based on my work. They are the only ones who can assure you that my work is being accurately represented.
We look forward to hearing from you and working closely with you as we continue this vital work.
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.