Wellness Recovery Action Plan
Barry Carmichael works within the Academic Development Team at Dundee & Angus College (D&A) as a Learning and Teaching Mentor and lecturer in Health and Social Care and Children and Young People, a post he has held since August 2020.
Prior to this appointment, he was employed as Organisational Development lead within the People Team, a post he had held since June 2015. He also worked as a Part-Time Variable lecturer in Sports and Fitness.
Why did you decide to engage in this professional learning?
What helped me to decide on this professional learning path was my own mental health journey and subsequent engagement with industry.
I had been delivering Mental Health Awareness within Dundee & Angus College for a period of time and also co-delivering Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid.
One of my co-deliverers used to present a small section on the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), the wellness toolkit. WRAP is a 5-step self-management tool that aims to help you to take more control of your life and wellbeing. I really liked the concept, so embarked on a journey where I first completed the introduction to WRAP two-day course and then laterally, the full five-day WRAP facilitators course.
I was keen to explore the concept of WRAP and how to use it in my own life both professionally and personally as I have had and continue to have mental health difficulties. Having read the story of WRAP founder, Dr Mary Ellen Copeland, I adopted a curious mindset as it sounded as if it was an intriguing, powerful and potentially, hugely helpful tool.
How did you plan for your professional learning?
My professional learning opportunity was planned and arranged by the Dundee & Angus College People Team, of which I was a full-time staff member at the time. I took a free place on NHS Tayside’s Introduction to WRAP two-day course. The facilitator, James Kennedy, is a Mental Health Nurse and runs these workshops alongside other Mental Health continuous professional development programmes.
What did the professional learning involve?
On the 2 day course I was introduced to WRAP and the 5 steps that are the foundations of a successful WRAP.
The 5 steps of WRAP are:
- Creating a wellness toolbox
- Daily maintenance plan
- Identifying triggers
- Early warning signs
- When things are breaking down.
We spent the two days working through various exercises around the 5 steps and shared and built our own WRAP.
How did your professional learning link with the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges?
Undertaking this piece of large professional learning has allowed me to resituate my values in line with my ‘students’ who are also my colleagues.
1.1 Students at the Centre and, indeed, the whole section on Professional Values within the Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges have been instrumental in supporting me to shift my thinking to not only consider the needs of modern lecturers in Scotland’s colleges but crucially about my own approach to leading the learning around teacher education.
Reflection on my own professional identity as an educator and as a teacher educator has shown me that I feel the need to teach, to role model and, where appropriate, to be an advocate for experienced lecturers and teacher educators throughout the sector.
Professional Standards for Lecturers in Scotland’s Colleges in action
1.1 Students at the Centre
1.1.4 Commits to equality and diversity, and promotes inclusiveness, trust and fairness.
- WRAP is a journey of rediscovery, committed to the wellbeing of our staff and students as this recognises them as individuals as well as empowering them to take action to improve their wellbeing.
1.1.3 Develops learning relationships based on mutual respect and integrity
- This is paramount within the safe environment in which WRAP is taught. There is a Group Agreement set at the very beginning of the journey and can be referred to as often as necessary to remind the group of their boundaries.
- 1.3 Continuous Professional Improvement
- Collaborates with students, colleagues and external partners, including employers, to deliver excellence in learning and embraces change and emerging practices and developments.
- From the sessions, I have taken feedback and amended the materials, the currency and the activities. Additionally, this has shaped the online resources. In addition, I have attended NHS run WRAP courses as refreshers of my own knowledge too.
What was the impact of your learning on you and your colleagues?
The impact has been positive and well received. I first presented my findings at a People Team meeting where I showed my colleagues the WRAP and some of the exercises contained within. I have subsequently qualified as a WRAP Facilitator and have delivered two-day WRAP sessions to some of our most disengaged learners alongside bite-sized sessions to students and staff. I have built a course on our learning portal My Learning with links to e-learning courses for those who cannot attend. I also use elements of WRAP in my curriculum teaching areas of Health and Social Care and Children and Young People.
All feedback has been positive as students and staff appreciate the time to reflect on themselves and what really works for them.
I think everyone needs to be aware of WRAP and what a powerful tool it can be. It is my intention to open this opportunity up to the wider college over the next academic year as there is potential to improve everyone’s wellbeing.
I have moved forward with this intention and I have delivered one full two-day WRAP with Dundee & Angus staff. I anticipate that we will run three two-day courses a year.
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