It has become an increasingly important policy goal for governments to support people who experience long-term conditions to better manage their health and wellbeing. This has come with the recognition that better self-management can not only reduce the strain on hard pressed health and care providers, but can also promote a greater degree of self-direction and
control amongst people experiencing health and other difficulties.
It is through self-management that many people gain the confidence, skills and knowledge to better manage their mental health and gain more control of their lives at a time when they may feel they have lost control.
Sometimes people use self-management skills without realising it, but formal self-management skills can be learnt on courses. These are sometimes run by people with direct experience of mental ill health. Some examples of structured self-management tools and training are:
WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning)
WRAP was first developed by a group of people in the USA, and is a structured framework that brought together the tools the group had been using to stay well and support them through difficult times. The possibility of recovery is at the heart of WRAP, which is built around five key recovery concepts; hope, personal responsibility, education, self-advocacy and support. WRAP is a planning process that involves assessing self-help tools and resources, and then using those tools and resources to develop plans for staying well. It includes:
- a personal wellness toolbox
- a daily maintenance list
- identifying triggers, early warning signs and when things are breaking down
- crisis and post-crisis planning
WRAP is best experienced in a group environment where a trained peer facilitator encourages and supports mutual learning; promoting that group members are experts in themselves.
Living Life to the Full
The ‘Living Life to the Full’ courses use the self-help format of helping you to help yourself. They also use the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) model that helps people to develop the life skills they need to tackle feelings of low mood, stress and distress. The courses have been developed by Dr Chris Williams, a Professor of Psychiatry and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist at the University of Glasgow. He has developed written and computerbased self-help treatments for anxiety, depression and bulimia, and is a well-known trainer and teacher.
‘Living Life to the Full’ is delivered in group settings and online.
Bipolar Scotland Self-Management Training Programme
Bipolar Scotland developed this training programme as one way of enabling people affected by bipolar disorder to take control of their lives. It helps people to understand how their own mental health problems affect them and how they can recognise the early signs and prevent or minimise the impact of an episode of ill health. The courses are delivered by accredited peer trainers who have experience of living with bipolar disorder.
The programme is built around three themes:
- Recognition — what triggers a crisis in their own mental health and what are the warning signs of a possible crisis.
- Action — creating an action plan and identifying coping strategies, self- medication and support networks.
- Maintenance —preparing an advance agreement and looking at lifestyle choices.