As part of the training, Megan had to create her own “wellness toolbox” and action plan. Since then, she’s been amazed how something so simple has helped her mental health.
Join Megan as she explains what WRAP training is, how WRAP can help with wellness and recovery, and what you can do to help.
Editor's Note: Though WRAP is available online, it cannot replace professional therapy, treatments or medication. If you are struggling with your mental health, please see a GP as soon as possible. WRAP is not endorsed by Teva, and all opinions in this article are the author’s only.
Did you know that 1 in 5 women will experience a mental health problem during pregnancy or after giving birth?
Having a baby is a huge life event. Of course, most of us know and understand that, but when problems happen, they can still take you by surprise.
After all, being pregnant is supposed to be a joyful experience. The skin gets rosier, and hair gets shinier, according to science. And, at the end of your 9-month beauty regime, you give birth to a darling baby to show for it.
In truth, pregnancy is the hardest thing a woman can go through. You can look forward to:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Morning sickness (hint: despite its name, it’s not just in the morning)
- Swollen ankles
- General aches and pains
- Difficulty sleeping
- The labour
And more. Of course, all of this is temporary, but remembering that is easier said than done. Being physically uncomfortable for most of the day, for more than two-thirds of a year, can take a toll on anyone’s mental health.
And complications don’t stop once the baby is born. After labour, any woman wants a good, long rest and recovery period. Instead, the first year is filled with sleepless nights, regular feedings, colic stages, and your own body struggling to get back to normal. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting.
Related: Navigating Motherhood with Mental Health Problems
Of course, pregnancy can be a blessing, and having a child is one of the greatest gifts, whether that’s through pregnancy, adoption, or surrogacy. Still, my own life leading up to and becoming a mum has been filled with ups and downs, and there is no shame in talking about it. That’s why, earlier this year, I decided to become a perinatal mental health peer support worker.
During training, I came across something called Wellness Recovery Action Planning, or WRAP for short. Before signing up and training, I’d never heard of WRAP. Today, I’m going to talk about what a wonderful thing WRAP is and how you can use it in day-to-day life.
What is Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP)?
When describing WRAP to people who come to us for peer support, I tell them it's like a manual to turn to when your mood slips. Best of all, this manual is tailored to you and no one else. WRAP recognises everyone as being individuals and knows what works for one may not with another.
Essentially, WRAP is like a guided mental health workbook that addresses the 5 following points:
1. Hope. Mental health struggles can take their toll on anyone emotionally and physically. But there is always hope. People who experience mental health struggles can get well, stay well, and follow their hopes, dreams and goals.
2. Personal responsibility. Mental health issues aren't your fault. But it is your responsibility to manage them in healthy ways. With the assistance of others, you can take action and do what needs to be done to keep yourself well.
3. Educating yourself. Others may not understand what you're going through, and you may not either. Mental health issues aren't polite enough to announce themselves or give you plenty of warning. With proper guidance, you can express what you're experiencing and learn about it. Educating yourself on your mental health is the best way to make positive, healthy decisions moving forward.
4. Self-advocacy. No person is an island. Instead of feeling ashamed of asking for help, feel strong knowing you can reach out. You deserve to get what you want and need, and asking for support is a mark of real wisdom.
5. Getting support and being supportive. While working towards wellness is up to you, receiving and giving support will help you gain confidence and enhance the quality of your life.
Related: 3 Tips to Remain Resilient During a Crisis
If someone asks me or another peer support worker about WRAP, we send out a booklet or ask them to download an app on their phone. Once they've got the starting materials, someone trained in WRAP will call that person and guide them through the booklet.
WRAP is about identifying what's strong rather than wrong. Instead of purely focusing on what's causing the issues, we look at everyday things that make you feel better. This can be anything from taking your medication to cleaning your teeth to taking a walk.
Then, we look at things that mean progress but not stuff you have to do every day. That could be a medication review or having a coffee with your friend.
Eventually, we look towards building a "wellness toolkit". This toolkit can include anything you can do to make yourself feel better. This toolkit is what you'll turn to if your usual daily plan isn't going so well. Nothing is too silly - it's what gives you comfort without judgement from anyone else.
If dancing wildly around your living room in your underwear helps, write it down.
If it's asking someone to look after the children so you can have a soak in the bath, get it down on paper!
If it's stepping outside to have a cigarette, you know where it goes! WRAP isn't about judgement; it's a tailored plan to help you.
How to find WRAP training
Training to provide WRAP has become more available recently, as has access to those qualified to help with WRAP plans.
A lot of local health trusts, as well as community support, recovery and peer support groups, are now offering WRAP to service users as a way of progressing recovery. You can find training facilitators here: www.copelandcentre.com.
How WRAP was established
WRAP started in 1997, developed by Mary Ellen Copeland. Copeland had a history of mental health difficulties and became disillusioned with the treatment that was on offer.
After years of struggling, she sought to find her own path to recovery, and WRAP was born. Since then, WRAP has been formally recognised by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) as an evidence-based practice.
This has been possible due to rigorous research conducted to determine WRAP's impact on participants. More information about the studies that have been carried out on WRAP is available at Wellness Recovery Action Plan: Answers to Your Questions about WRAP as an Evidence-Based Practice.
WRAP is not a complicated concept, but it helped me focus on what I could do during a downward spiral.
Related: Self-Kindness and Anxiety - Fake it ‘til You Make it
Nowadays, I don't need to rack my brain. I just pick up my WRAP booklet, and it's all written down, right in front of me. I follow what's there and, eventually, my mood starts to even out again.
It's not a miracle cure, but it's simple, safe, and effective.
NPS-IE-NP-00457 August 2022