Wellness Recovery Action Plan offers alternative to McGill’s Mental Health Services

This article was posted on The McGill Tribune on February 28th, 2016 by William Pang. It discusses the fairly recent increase in the McGill mental health services and the actions that were taken by McGill university in response to this increase. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan or WRAP, which was founded 18 years ago in Vermont, is a program that works to aid individuals who suffer from any mental health issues. This program was initiated in McGill during Fall of 2015.

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This program allows students to take part in six sessions, meeting once a week for about two hours. Emily Yung, McGill’s Mental Health Education Coordinator says that in these sessions, students are taught “a set of key concepts to help build a foundation for recovery” and “a ‘wellness toolbox’ to combat symptoms”. A very open and sharing environment is encouraged. Students are allowed to collaborate with one another in order to find out what will work best for their problems. Group therapy, as opposed to one-on-one talks, is encouraged in this program.

Rather than focusing on those with serious and more prominent mental health issues, this program is designed towards those who have mild to moderate mental illnesses. It is specifically targeted to helping deal with “day-to-day challenges” such as stress and anxiety due to schoolwork, career choices, etc. This allows those who are going through difficult times, but not with any diagnosed mental illness, to have some source of guidance. Another aspect of WRAP that sets it apart from McGill’s Mental Health Services, is its ‘transdiagnostic approach’ – meaning that rather than focusing on one specific mental illness, it tries to help with a whole spectrum of mental illnesses. Therefore, WRAP works as a great addition and alternative to Mcgill’s Mental Health Services (MMHS).

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A PhD student, Julia Tischer, has said this about her experience with WRAP:

“I had this wonderful bonding experience with other people who have been going through difficult situations, many related to stress in school. So I didn’t feel alone.”

This article stood out to me, because I really liked how McGill’s has taken the initiative to add a program like WRAP to their already existing mental health services. This allows students the opportunity to choose which service will meet their needs in a more suitable way. After all, different things work for different people, and for different issues.

Furthermore, the whole time I was reading this article, I couldn’t help but think about how a close friend of mine, who had dealt with a great amount of anxiety and stress since entering university, could have benefited from this program. As I read about the services WRAP offers, I felt as though those were the types of skills and environments that would have worked really well for my friend. Knowing that others are going through the same kinds of difficulties as yourself is comforting, because you no longer feel alone with your problems. Furthermore, I really liked the idea of helping students develop a wellness toolbox’. To create a wellness toolbox, this is what is done:

A list is created of things you have done in the past, or could do, to help yourself stay well, and things you could do to help yourself feel better when you are not doing well. You will use these “tools” to develop your own WRAP. (Retrieved from the official website: mentalhealthrecovery.com)

Having such an organized plan is important when dealing with stressful situations. It can help you feel like there is a plan that you can depend on. Things like this can work very well for self-help, as I have discovered from my own experiences in helping my friend.

Another point to make is that this article directly relates to this week’s reading The Mental Health Crisis on Campus by Kate Lunau. This reading talked about the increase in the number of students in need of mental health care within several universities. It talks about how in today’s society “students are having difficulty coping with the rapidly changing world around them, a world where they can’t unplug, can’t relax, and believe they must stay at the top of their class, no matter what.” The program that McGill has incorporated into their system directly responds to this issue! After reading this article, and when considering the huge number of stressed out university students discussed in the reading, WRAP seems like a great idea! I believe that more universities should try to add this program to their already existing mental health services as well! 🙂 This sounds like a great way to go about solving this issue of stress and anxiety. WRAP can help students with minor issues combat their symptoms before it worsens. Maybe this way, the heartbreaking suicides that were discussed in Lunau’s article can be prevented. No one wants to see more young students become so overwhelmed with school that it turns into something as drastic as suicide.


– Article link here!

– More information on the The Wellness Recovery Action Plan program here!

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