Friday, 19 April 2013

WRAP and Peer Support in Scotland from my point of view (part one)

I first heard about WRAP - wellness recovery action planning - in 2006 at a presentation in Edinburgh by Stephen Pocklington of the Copeland Center.  Prior to this I'd attended the SRN conference on Peer Support in Glasgow, December 2005, where my interest in the American mental health movement began.  For I saw the potential of psychiatric system and mental health service change.  Or so I thought.

Something different to what was going on in Scotland at the time, in terms of user/survivor power and a human rights movement which didn't seem to be happening here.  But I knew what I'd experienced at the hands of psychiatry, the grabbing and jagging, the sense of being treated like a criminal because of so-called mental illness.  We were just as much in need of a movement for change.

And so I got involved by starting up Chrys Muirhead Associates (to deliver workshops) and Peer Support Fife (voluntary organisation) in January 2008, organising the Celebrating Recovery conference in April 2008, and training as a WRAP Facilitator in June 2008.   What seemed to be a natural progression in the Scottish scene, after sharing my recovery story on SRN in both 2005, updated in 2008.  And then the fireworks began as the powers that be tried to make me conform.

I had completely recovered and survived mental illness and the psychiatric system but they were trying to reign me in and disempower me.  But I just went out and about with WRAP, delivering workshops in tandem with another facilitator, in response to demand, our first one in Fife.  We talked about being in control when things were out of control.  We shared our stories of recovery and what it was like in the psychiatric systems.  No holds barred and telling it like it is.

Others were still trying to put a leaflet together explaining WRAP and debating how it should be facilitated.  Meanwhile we went out and about in Scotland delivering WRAP and learning as we went along.  Which is the way of community development, from my experience of 30 years.  Taste it and see.  Think of the outcome and then work towards it.  Risk taking rather than being risk averse.  Putting recovery into practice.

The point being that if I'd waited for direction from leaders in mental health and psychiatry well I'd never have recovered, got off all the psych drugs and got back on with my life.  Straitjackets are not the answer, in my experience, and demonstrate limited negotiation skills and have nothing to do with recovery.

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