WRAP peer support for Veterans

With support from the Bell True Patriot Love Fund, Hope + Me Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and Toronto (Hope + Me-MDAO) launched WRAP® and Peer Support for Veterans and Their Families (WPSVF), a three-part program designed to help Veterans and their families in Ontario manage mental health challenges and feel more connected to the community through peer support training.

Hope + Me-MDAO offers free support and recovery programs to people across Ontario living with depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. Hope + Me-MDAO provides drop-in peer support groups, recovery programs, family and youth clinical support, early intervention for mood disorders and psychosis and online tools focused on wellness and recovery. To date, they have provided peer support services to more than 12,000 people in Ontario.

What is WRAP?

WRAP® (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) is a three-day evidence-based recovery program for non-diagnosed individuals in a non-clinical setting. WRAP was founded in Vermont, USA, in 1997. A key leader among those pioneers at the Vermont gathering was Mary Ellen Copeland, who was facilitating the discussion. Since then, it has been facilitated around the world, with groups, certified WRAP Facilitators, and individual WRAP users in 10+ countries. The WRAP process spans all ages, cultures, and life experiences.

Within a group setting, individuals explore self-help methods like peer support, focusing exercises, relaxation, and stress reduction techniques and get resources for coping in difficult times and keeping themselves well.

Participants develop a daily plan to stay on track with their life and wellness goals, as well as to help identify what throws them off track and develop a plan to keep moving forward.

“WRAP means validation that my situation is not unique, and there are others who are also trying to get to the other side of this. My plan is finding my support, witnessing my changes, leading to me feeling hope.” – Hope + Me-MDAO program participant

The second component is training WRAP® graduates on peer support. Hope + Me-MDAO’s peer support training addresses boundaries and limits, group peer support, plus practical skills and techniques. 

The third part of the project is an apprenticeship program where graduates can shadow Hope + Me-MDAO peer groups to get hands-on experience in peer support. The goal is for participants to leave the program with tools for personal wellness as well as skills to offer effective support.

Peer support in practice

“Peer support means solidarity, respectful communication, boundaries, rules for engagement, listening not advice, being present, with no judgement.” – Hope + Me-MDAO program participant

Based on the response from participating families, Hope + Me-MDAO also offered “From Chaos to Calm”, an eight-week workshop that helps address and resolve the complicated dynamic that arises between family members who have shouldered the role of caregiver and the spouse, sibling or child who is the focal point of their concern.

“One issue the workshop addresses is what we call FOG – the fear, obligation and guilt which the caregiver often takes on,” said Ann Marie MacDonald, Executive Director of Hope + Me-MDAO. “Participants in the group are trying to unpack their family dynamic and the facilitator shepherds the conversation so they can. As the weeks go on, the families start to bond with their peers in the group, building a community of caring.”

Peer support is an essential component of recovery, and Hope + Me-MDAO’s goal is to create a safe and empowering environment where people can connect with others who share their journey and find hope in their collective strength.

Thanks to support from the Bell True Patriot Love Fund – and donors like you – the WRAP® and Peer Support for Veterans and Their Families program is available at no cost to its participants. Thank you!