Empowering Mental Health: The Journey from WRAP to APPR

Mary Ellen Copeland, an author, educator, and mental health recovery advocate, has been a driving force in transforming mental health care by emphasizing personal empowerment, self-help, prevention, and recovery through natural supports, education, training, and research. Her dedication to making mental health resources accessible led her to develop the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) in 1997.

However, Mary Ellen’s vision of WRAP being freely available for all encountered challenges when the Copeland Center began monetizing it, requiring fees for facilitator training and materials. This departure from the initial intent of providing free access to WRAP prompted Mary Ellen to create a royalty-free alternative called Action Planning for Prevention and Recovery (APPR).

APPR emerged as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the need for accessible mental health resources. Unlike WRAP, APPR is designed to be freely available for anyone to use and adapt. Mary Ellen’s commitment to democratizing mental health support shines through in APPR, ensuring that individuals facing mental health challenges have access to effective tools without financial barriers.

The Essence of APPR

APPR draws inspiration from Mary Ellen’s extensive studies of how individuals cope with life challenges daily. Her approach emphasizes empowering people to use techniques and strategies that have proven effective for others, fostering a sense of personal agency in mental health recovery.

Post-Crisis Empowerment

In the post-crisis landscape, APPR stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. Developed collaboratively with individuals who have lived experiences of serious mental health challenges, it provides a structured framework for individuals to regain control over their lives.

WRAP’s Evolution and Global Impact

While WRAP continues to be a widely adopted tool globally, Mary Ellen’s decision to create APPR has expanded the reach of her vision. Her work has touched millions of lives through books, media, and lectures, encouraging individuals to use WRAP or APPR as a personal guide to achieving the desired emotional state and creating the life they envision.

Recognition and Validation

The effectiveness of WRAP has not gone unnoticed. Extensive studies have led to its listing in the federal National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, validating its impact on mental health recovery. APPR, as an extension of this legacy, carries forward the principles of empowerment, self-help, and recovery.

In conclusion, Mary Ellen Copeland’s journey from WRAP to APPR represents a commitment to making mental health resources universally accessible. By providing a royalty-free alternative, she ensures that individuals facing mental health challenges have the support they need without financial barriers, ultimately fostering a global community focused on empowerment, prevention, and recovery.

Navigating Personal Responsibility in a Judgmental WorldPersonal Responsibility

In our tight-knit community, where judgment seems to be a constant companion, discussing personal responsibility can feel like treading on thin ice. The prevalent societal expectation that individuals with mental health challenges should carry on as if everything is fine only adds to the complexity.

Embracing Personal Responsibility in a Complex Landscape

Addressing personal responsibility in this context can be daunting. People are quick to judge without truly understanding or empathizing with the unique experiences of individuals. It’s disheartening when, despite our best efforts, the world insists we should be doing more.

I firmly stand by the belief that everyone is doing their best. While it’s easy to think others could do better, it’s essential to recognize the limits of our understanding. Each person’s journey is different, and we can’t accurately gauge their struggles.

Even in my own life, finding the balance between giving my best and acknowledging my limitations is an ongoing challenge. Balancing high-intensity activities with self-care can be a struggle, leading to frustration. I’ve learned that self-punishment with shame only perpetuates a cycle that does more harm than good.

The Journey to Personal Responsibility

Navigating personal responsibility, especially in a world that often feels out of control, begins with acknowledging the chaos around us. It calls for introspection, a deep dive into the core of our values and ethics.

Understanding why we do what we do is crucial. Whether it’s fueled by passion or driven by the desire to support loved ones, knowing our motivations helps us prioritize self-care effectively.

It’s essential to remember that the world won’t change just for us. Empowerment comes from identifying problems within our capacity to solve. If it’s not our responsibility, it’s not our problem.

Building a Better World Through Personal Responsibility

I firmly believe that personal responsibility plays a pivotal role in shaping the world we want to live in. Authenticity, in this context, is built on understanding our capabilities and taking deliberate steps toward positive change.

In a judgmental world, where the pressure to conform to unrealistic expectations is ever-present, embracing personal responsibility becomes an act of self-empowerment. By focusing on the problems we can solve and taking responsibility only for what is within our capacity, we pave the way for a more compassionate and understanding community.

Let’s strive to create a world where personal responsibility is celebrated, where individuals are supported in their unique journeys, and judgment takes a backseat to empathy and understanding.

Campfires – A Modern Spin on A Human Tradition

OH&WG along with Healthy Minds Around the Loop and our community partners are working to build healthy minds, bodies and increase resilience in our community. Communities are built by sharing so we have found some things to share: gathering space, refreshments, information on low cost and no cost community resources. We are offering guided mindfulness practices along with supporting monthly community chosen activities, workshops, along with ideas generated as we go.

There is no doubt that mental health and issues surrounding mental illness have moved from a conversation had behind closed doors, to one that has gained a global voice and community awareness. Research and technology that allow us to understand the underlying physical and social contributions of mental illness and resilience have helped to remove some of the stigma from individuals.

We are trying to move from conversation to action. We are not offering solutions, merely the hope that if we create space, community may grow and together we can create wellness.

Healthy Minds Around the Loop Association is offering Campfires; a place to drop in and grab a coffee or tea, find out about free low cost and no cost wellness programs in Spryfield and surrounding areas, try out meditation, and participate in monthly workshops and events. We will be holding our campfires beginning in September at Chebucto Connections.

We will be holding events over the summer that promote community building and mental health, we are doing so in order to promote our program and engage people in our community. If you or your organization are interested in participating we have a number of ways you can do so:

by providing information or offering to speak about free and low cost resources that you provide

by providing snacks, or water and drinks;

by giving gift certificates related to your business;

by supporting your staff to volunteer;

by contributing a cash donation; or

By attending our events and bringing friends and family along with you.

We do hope you will find a way to help us in supporting resilience, positive mental health outcomes, and community building. Together we can make a difference!

Healthy Minds Around the Loop Association

Fostering people-centred, accessible, and inclusive mental health services


Suicide-Warning triggers. Enter with care

When suicide takes one of my brothers or sisters, I hear the world scream why.  Why did they not see how precious life is?  Why did they not see how to get through?  Why did they not ask for help?  Why did the people around them not see that they needed help?  I hear their screams, yet I do not ask why.  I know why.  I have attempted no less than four times in my life, although I am not sure how many more.  It is not really something that I have ever spoken about.  The shame is overwhelming.  Why don’t you just get over it? It is all in your head.  Others have had it much worse.  These are the voices of the world.  These are also the voices in my head screaming at me for being so weak, so stupid, so worthless.  Not wanting my friends and family to have to deal with the pain of my life saved me.

It has been a very long time since I lived in that dark place.  I now have more support than I have ever had before.  I have a partner who I love tremendously, we work at our relationship, and neither of us take for granted how precious it is to be loved and accepted for our true selves.  My tribe is made up of diverse women and men who believe that we are accountable for who we are in, and how we treat the world.   I spend quite a bit of time walking around grinning, appreciating the beautiful life I have.  I still struggle, it is still easy to slip into darkness.  Buddha is right, life is suffering, and my brain will probably turn on me again.  It is the nature of the illness we do not recover, we adapt.  It gets easier until it doesn’t.  It doesn’t make sense hopefully someday we will figure it out, this is not that day.

I know that I am not alone.   There are others who felt my pain, and it killed them.  They were not selfish.  They were not weak.  I understand and forgive my sisters and brothers who could not find another way to stop the pain.  I hope that you found the peace that you were looking for.   For anyone who is struggling, you are not alone.  Try to find someone who knows about trauma, they will be more equipped to help you.  Some therapists inadvertently do damage to people who are already struggling.  Trauma aware care givers will use phrases like C-PTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder,) EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.)  A good trauma based approach will include high respect for clients and their experiences, will have clearly stated boundaries, and will empower the client to guide the process.

We are not weak.  We do need support.  Let us start by supporting  each other.  May we find something to hold on to until we break through.


How A Video Game Community Brought Me Out of My Shell

I am not a gamer, unless you do not play video games, then I am a pretty good gamer.   My wonderful, long-suffering husband, has played video games for the better part of forty years, so I decided that I would learn so that we could play together.  For a wedding present we received Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game.) GW2 is not my first game, but the one that I still play, and my favorite.  The reason that this game is so dear to my heart, and keeps me returning, is the community. This piece is about one community member in particular, she has gone by many names, but for our purposes here, she will be known as Jakket.    

Jakket played every day, she knew the best places to farm for gold, and had no problems taking charge, so I followed her.   I was not alone.  Soon I saw that her reliability attracted followers where ever she frequented.  She was not chatty, she ignored drama, saying she was too old for that to affect her (although she used much more colourful language.)  She was in charge of every map she was on, not because she craved control.  She desired for things to run smoothly, and if no one else would do it she would roll her eyes and dig in. When she observed other people doing something more efficient, she would immediately adapt it to fit her needs.   Before long I was playing with her for a couple of hours a day, something that did not go unnoticed by her friend, and now mine, Pantzz (there is an emerging theme.) He invited me to join them, so I created a new avatar, and Hattzz was introduced to the world.

Hattzz was a part of something, we became recognizable.  I became more confident and started trying more challenging content, this introduced me to more people.  After time all of the people Jakket drew around her became my friends, and in some cases, a part of my tribe (OPL bless.)  They helped me find my voice, and taught me that my authentic self is accepted, and therefore acceptable. This is what gave me the skills and the courage to create community irl (in real life.)  

So I started to focus on what has so far become these weird fun creations, and I could not play everyday.  Every time I joined my friends in GW2, Jakket would admonish anyone who encouraged me to work less and play more.  She would tell them building things takes work, and it makes my eyes fill, knowing that she was proud of me.  I was not the only person I saw her support, but those are other people’s stories to tell.

Jakket died in December 2017.  Those of us who she drew together created memorials, wrote, made art, and there is at least one of us who stands where she stood everyday.  She did not try to build a community, but she created one nonetheless, something that I find endlessly inspiring.  

I honour her and take her with me whenever I remember:

Life is too short for petty drama.

Building things takes work.  

Showing up everyday can be enough to start.  

Be adaptable.

One person’s desire for things to go well can be enough.

Community can not be forced, it is organic, it can be nurtured to grow.  

Now, go out and be nice to newbs.

Love to Jakket’s Army & Krewe, and all the beautiful Sparkfly family.