Looking Forward to the Next 25 Years of WRAP!
By Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.
This month twenty-five years ago, a bold group of peers decided they wanted and needed a different way to work toward recovery and wellness, a way that would allow them to live the life of their dreams. This month, we celebrate the birth of WRAP!
Most in the WRAP community have heard the story of the remarkable work of these peers who gathered at a workshop in Vermont. We know that, as a result of their work, multitudes of people around the world have found wellness and recovery.
For those who don’t know, the people who developed WRAP were people who heard voices, who were deeply depressed, who had experienced extreme mania, who were so anxious they could not sit still, who needed an attendant to be with them—people whose lives seemed to be over. Most of them had been told they had to be at that workshop. They came to the sessions with no hope that anything good would come from them. Thankfully they were wrong. Being strong people who were not ready to give up, they turned to creating a solution, and WRAP was born. Millions of people have benefited from their great, groundbreaking work.
In 2005, only 8 years after the development of WRAP, a supposedly wise “mental health professional” (a professional in title only—not a kind and caring provider) told me that “WRAP had run its course.” How wrong he was. WRAP goes on and on and on.
So, what is my vision for the future of WRAP, for the next 25 years and beyond? I predict that the incredible progress we have made in mental health recovery with WRAP will grow exponentially and that it will have a profound effect on activities and actions around the globe. It will jump out of its mental health role and become universally understood and valued for all aspects of life.
In my utopian world, 25 years from now, everyone will:
- Know and live WRAP!
- Be familiar with the WRAP values and ethics and live them.
- Know the key concepts of hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy, and support and hold them close, using them as a guide as they make decisions and support others in following them.
- Know what their wellness tools are and use them.
- Know there are certain things they need to do to stay as well as possible and do them, along with any extra things they might need or want to do to stay on track.
- Be well aware of their stressors and the wellness tools they will use if any of them come up.
- Know their early warning signs and what to do about them, taking action as needed.
- Know very well their signs that things are breaking down (going to hell in a handbasket) and know they need to take action right away to feel better and prevent a crisis. And they would do it! And, just in case, they would have developed a crisis plan in the event that others need to take over their care, and a post-crisis plan to use after the crisis is over.
By 2047, my hopes for the world are as follows.
WRAP will be a common acronym, well known to everyone. The world will be an amazing place. People who have mental health issues will know what to do for themselves without spending days, weeks, months, or even years in an institution. When someone feels anxious, upset, or out of sorts in a small or big way, they will know simple, safe, non-invasive things to do about it—things that work for them.
Jails and prisons will be empty as the crime rate sinks to the lowest ever. People will be doing the work they choose and love to do and being paid a wage that easily supports them and their family. Individuals will care deeply about each other. People who are sick and dying will receive the utmost in quality care and love.
WRAP, the key concepts, and the WRAP values and ethics will be the bottom line and the top line, the place to begin in all things.
People will be introduced to WRAP and a WRAP way of living at a very young age. They will be modeling after their parents, who use WRAP as their guide to life, as soon as they are able to understand what it is like to feel well and not so well, and things they can do to feel better. For example, if daddy is busy, I can play with my trucks, or color, or pet the cat. WRAP will be fully integrated into homes, schools, businesses, corporations, and all of society.
Governments, and every person in these governments, will come from a place of the highest integrity and caring. Just imagine our governments and corporations operating based on the WRAP values and ethics. Imagine them using the WRAP format as the backbone of their planning and actions to get us out of the “fix” we are in now. We could move forward to a loving, compassionate world—the likes of which we have never seen or experienced.
These are my hopes for WRAP when we celebrate its 50th anniversary!
Explore WRAP principles and apply them to your life situation with these books and materials:
- WRAP Updated Edition
- WRAP Workbook
- Crisis Plan On the Go
- WRAP On the Go
- WRAP On the Go for Healthy Aging
- WRAP for Healthy Aging Workbook
- WRAP: Five Key Concepts to Guide Your Path to Wellness
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.