WRAP plans or ‘wellness recovery action plans’ are one of those tools that sound slightly happy clappy but are actually quite useful. My first experience of WRAP was at day Hospital where I attended a group on it because it was that or be bored watching TV in the communal area. As you will already know from previous blogs day Hospital was a life saver but also pretty dull and consisted of a lot of TV watching. I knew I was required to do a WRAP for my discharge so I figured it might make sense to attend and save myself awkwardly and painstakingly going through it with my care worker who was in his early twenties and seemed panicked by anything I did that didn’t correlate with his textbook. Mine is now tattily stuck to my fridge covered in so many magnets it’s not quite legible but as I’m having a tricky time at the moment I figured I’d get it out for review.
The concept of a WRAP is to create (in some form) a detailed list of triggers, warning signs, descriptions of yourself well and unwell and what makes you feel better. They are usually sold as being useful for yourself, your support network and medical professionals to reflect on. I thought it sounded simplistic and unnecessary considering I already knew these things and stored this information in my head. I also resented being forced to do something that was supposed to be ‘useful for me’ which is a real theme throughout mental health services. I have a very real issue with being told how I should talk, act or manage my own mental health, regardless of whether it’s well intended.
Whilst on a day to day basis it remains hidden amongst the clutter of the fridge I’ve actually found it surprisingly valuable as a kind of grounding tool when I’m not feeling so good. Like a to-do list it removes the umming and ahhing and acts as a quick reminder of what I could be doing to help myself. For example I can currently feel myself retreating into my house but looking at my WRAP it’s pretty clear being outdoors is significantly more useful so aiming for a swim or walk each day gives me a sense of achievement.
The first WRAP I was presented with was 18 pages long and slightly repetitive which is why when I actually had some choice on the matter I quickly rewrote it down to a few pages. As I am quite a visual person and bits of paper that can’t be filed are often left scrunched on my shelving unit I developed the WRAP into a one-page flow chat (because who doesn’t love a good flow chart?) that could be stuck to the fridge and was a bit more user friendly for all. When I was discharged from my psych team earlier this year I was asked to do another and this time I got creative and went for a full-on spider diagram with cartoons. Doing the WRAP in a way that felt true to myself was a good way of upping my positive vibes towards it, it also allowed me to reflect on how things had changed since I first got ill. For example I’d previously put that travelling made me very stressed but since pushing myself to go to Barcelona a couple of years ago I’ve travelled much more and it’s now only going through security that terrifies me, largely because I always seem to forget I can’t bring huge cans of deodorant or litre bottles of water through. Rewriting the WRAP actually allowed me to see how I had progressed since I was first ill 4 years go.
There are a whole load of WRAPS out there, some of which are great some of which are a little long in my opinion. Below you can see the ways in which I’ve developed my WRAP style and see how flexible you can be with it – I saw someone do it in a poem form once which was awesome! I’ve also provided my written WRAP template to download if you’d like a condensed version to start with: WRAP plan 2