I recently read that mental health workers and advocates in British Columbia bungee jump from a bridge each year to raise funds that support WRAP groups and hiring peer support workers. Sounds extreme, especially when you consider that they do this in February, wearing absolutely nothing. (I won’t link to the article because once you’ve seen it, you can’t “unsee” it.)
I’ve always admired my neighbors to the north for their personality and spirit, not to mention their ability to tolerate extreme conditions in the winter. But I’ve also admired Canada’s excellent health care system. So why is it that, even in Canada, people are resorting to things like naked winter bungee jumping to raise money for WRAP?
We know that WRAP works. Randomized controlled trials have been published. Our health care systems pay for a lot of things that aren’t supported by evidence, so why don’t they pay for certain things that do work, like WRAP? When combined with other interventions like medication, therapy, and case management, WRAP improves outcomes and requires only a modest investment compared to overall health costs.
Luckily, more and more behavioral health systems see the value of paying for peer support and wellness activities like WRAP as a way of improving treatment outcomes in a cost-effective manner. In the United States, numerous states have added peer support and wellness to their Medicaid plans (meaning that state and federal funds pay for these services). In Australia, health districts are using peer support workers to connect people in isolated “outback” regions and to engage people in cities. And the list goes on.
If you’re ready to take the next step and use the WRAP Facilitator Tools to take WRAP to the next level in your community, you also need to think about financing. Peers for Progress, a global network of peer support organizations organized by the University of North Carolina (in the southern United States), offers some good financing advice. Have you gotten funding for WRAP in your community? We’d love for you to share your successes on our Facebook page.
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.