Working with Clients with Mental Health Diagnoses
When a loved one is living with a mental health diagnosis, it is life changing not only for that person but also for their family members. Regardless of age having to raise a child with a mental health diagnosis can be very overwhelming. Addiction to alcohol and drugs can bring new levels of anxiety and stress for all parties involved. This is where a WRAP plan comes into play.
Luckily, a WRAP plan can be used to aid both the individual and their family members during the recovery process. This tool can also help prevent hospitalization. Although this can be used as an effective support tool, it is not to be used as a replacement for therapeutic treatment.
What is a WRAP Plan?
Formally known as a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), this treatment was first developed in 1997 by Mary Ellen Copeland, Ph.D.
Dr. Copeland worked with a group of people who were living with mental health issues. She recognized they needed something to help them manage their symptoms and with daily life. Her ultimate goal was to develop a tool that would allow them to strive towards achieving their hopes and dreams.
What started off as a tool solely used by people recovering from mental health issues, has now gone beyond its original purpose. WRAP is now used to address all kinds of physical, mental health and life issues. WRAP has been implemented worldwide and is used in health care and mental health systems.
How a WRAP Plan Can Help
Unless a family member has first-hand knowledge of mental health diagnoses, it may be difficult for them to recognize symptoms related to illness. It may be equally difficult to know whether a loved one is struggling or having an episode. That is where the WRAP plan comes into play.
For the individual or client, the WRAP provides helpful information specifically tailored for that one person. One of the benefits to WRAP is that it can change at any given time and the person isn’t tied down to what is solely written down and can make modifications and personalize it as they see fit.
Developing the WRAP Plan
When developing a WRAP plan, it is important to have what is called a Wellness Toolbox. The Wellness Toolbox focuses on “tools” that a person can use when developing their WRAP. These tools may range from journaling, talking to loved ones, exercise, listening to music, or talking to a counselor.
Another component for the WRAP is coming up with a daily maintenance plan. Here, the individual is asked to describe what they are like when they are 100% well. It is best to develop a WRAP when the person is not symptomatic, as they will be able to articulate their idea of wellness and what that looks like to them more effectively.
Working with the WRAP Plan
When working on the WRAP, it is important that the individual is specific when it comes to describing what their psychiatric symptoms look like from a physical, mental and emotional point of view.
It is equally important for them to articulate what they feel their supports can do to aid them when experiencing a breakdown.
Another part of the WRAP is identifying early warning signs that a person might experience. Once the warning signs are identified, the WRAP then asks what happens to the individual when things begin to break down and what that looks like to them so that family members can become aware of what symptoms that person shows.
This part of the plan shows the family that their loved one is beginning to have difficulty managing themselves and may require support because they are starting to feel worse.
Other Aspects of the WRAP Plan Include:
- Identifying triggers (some possible triggers include: people, places, things, events, anniversaries) and how these make the person feel
- Identifying coping skills for such triggers.
- Which medications they are taking
- Hospital preferences/Hospitals to accept and avoid
- Treatments that are considered beneficial (can be holistic, conventional).
Have a Crisis Plan in Place, Just in Case
The remaining part of the WRAP focuses on having a Crisis Plan to be put into place in case the individual is not able to make rational decisions and communicate their needs effectively to those around him/her.
The Crisis Plan asks for the person to identify signs that it is time for family members or friends to take over and assist them in managing their needs. It is important for the person to identify as many supports as possible, and to include their names and contact information on the WRAP.
WRAP has been shown through evidence-based practice to be an effective tool in aiding in the recovery of those who have mental health issues.