Valued identities and deficit identities: Wellness Recovery Action Planning and self-management in mental health

Nurs Inq. 2011 Mar;18(1):40-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2011.00529.x.


Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) is a self-management programme for people with mental illnesses developed by a mental health consumer, and rooted in the values of the 'recovery' movement. The WRAP is noteworthy for its construction of a health identity which is individualised, responsibilized, and grounded in an 'at risk' subjectivity; success with this programme requires development of an intensely focused health lifestyle. We draw on Bourdieu and Giddens to argue that what is being developed is a 'reflexive health habitus', which is not equally accessible to all social groups, and is in tension with WRAP's recovery-orientated aims. However, it is understandable that such a programme developed in mental health, because people with mental illness are highly stigmatized as 'a risk' and viewed as in need of risk management. By developing their own form of self-monitoring 'at risk' identity, mental health consumers are, paradoxically, able to construct themselves as ideal health citizens and no longer a risk, thus re-entering the moral community. We conclude by suggesting some changes to WRAP practice.

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / nursing*
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Mental Health
  • Nurse's Role
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Social Identification*
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Values*