This article was originally published in February 2016.
What an exciting time to see WRAP getting introduced into the university system! College, although a wonderful time for young adults to explore, learn and grow, can be stressful and even daunting for some. Because WRAP provides simple tools that can be used by those with limited time and money, college is an ideal setting to help people enhance their wellness journey.
As students move off to college, they leave behind their support systems and, in some cases, their home country and culture. Having to make friends, adjust to a new life, focus on difficult school work, and find ones way around can be extremely stressful and lead to mental health challenges. McGill University’s counseling department approached the Copeland Center for help in providing them with a straight-forward and practical system to teach the students, while they waited to receive mental health services.
Following is a February 2016 article on WRAP for college students from the McGill Reporter.
McGill Has a New Tool in the Battle Against Mental Illness
by Doug Sweet
In what may be a first for a Canadian university, McGill has added the internationally renowned WRAP program to its diverse toolkit for combating students’ problems with mental illness.
Developed in Vermont in the late 1990s, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) is “a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be,” according to the program’s website. “It is now used extensively by people in all kinds of circumstances, and by health care and mental health systems all over the world to address all kinds of physical, mental health and life issues.”
WRAP “is a very accessible resource that students can plug into right away,” said Emily Yung, Mental Health Education Coordinator in Student Services. “It helps them build a support network that lasts; the people who are in the sessions go on to be friends.”
The program, which began last fall, consists of group sessions led by a mental health staff member and a student, both of whom have undergone a seven-day training session in the WRAP program. There are normally about eight to 10 students in each group, and were six such groups active through the fall term, Yung said.
There will be about a dozen groups this term, some of which started in January, with others beginning in February or March.
You can’t just walk in and join them. Students who contact McGill’s Mental Health Service will be given a first consultation appointment, where they may be offered the option of joining a WRAP group, Yung said. The consultation appointment is there to get an understanding of what the student is experiencing and to identify what appropriate resources are available to best help the student.
The groups are trans-diagnostic, Yung said, meaning there could be students dealing with a variety of mental health issues, from mild depression to substance-abuse issues or anxiety.
“The focus is on wellness and mental health, not so much on illness,” Yung said. “There has been positive feedback; the students who have gone through the program really enjoyed the group sessions and the strategies they learned.
“We haven’t had trouble filling the sessions.”
Given that a recent survey showed more than 40 per cent of students have experienced symptoms of serious anxiety or depression, a number not inconsistent with other universities, it’s no surprise the new service is popular.
Funding has come from both McGill’s Mental Health Service and the Innovation Fund, and is in place for another year. That covers the $1,000 per person for session leaders who go through the training, as well as incidental costs. So far, a dozen people have gone through the training, Yung said, and the idea of developing a more McGill-centric program is under consideration.
The WRAP program differs from the McGill Mental Health Hub, put in place thanks to a $500,000 donation from Bell Canada, which is a website where students can get information about mental illness, as well as a self-screening tool that can help them understand their own situation while providing a list of resources and self-care tips, Yung said. WRAP is not one of the resources listed, because students need to be directed first to the Mental Health Service. Read the Original Article
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.