I come from Hong Kong. As a result of family tragedies and discrimination by others, my mental health deteriorated and I was diagnosed with serious depression.

In New Zealand, I was fortunate to discover the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP), which helped me on my long, but effective, journey to recovery. It gave me confidence and hope, and strategies for overcoming my illness.

I first encountered WRAP in 2001 when my psychiatrist referred me to Affinity Services (formerly known as Te Korowai Aroha). There I was under the care of Chinese social worker Mrs Wenli Zhang, who arranged for me to attend the WRAP workshop.

This was the first WRAP workshop in New Zealand to be conducted in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) and facilitated by Chinese, for Chinese. Wenli translated the WRAP textbook from English into Chinese to help us understand WRAP concepts.

Being able to do the workshop in my own language meant that I was able to get a great deal out of the course, and I very much enjoyed attending the classes; they helped me understand more about my illness and gave me mechanisms for coping with different situations.

By the end of the workshop I had developed my own crisis plan and a wellness toolbox. I felt I had a clear direction for my recovery; I knew where I was, where I needed to go and how I was going to get there.

Wellness toolbox plays a significant role

While I consider myself to have recovered, I still use the skills WRAP gave me, especially my own wellness toolbox, which is easy to apply to everyday life.

No matter if I am in crisis, feel depressed, passive or just having trouble sleeping, I immediately turn to my wellness toolbox for coping strategies. These include things like visiting my psychiatrist and increasing my medication or doing something I like that will make me happy.

The wellness toolbox is like a light illuminating the way ahead. It reminds me how to remain positive.

Service begets happiness

I think I have become more confident about managing my illness and other areas of my life. Even when I suffer a setback, I know I can stand up and bravely face my difficulties.

When I was young my father told me that service begets happiness. After I recovered, I endeavoured to help others as my contribution to society. I even worked in a resthome as a volunteer and am still doing volunteer work at Bo Ai She, a Chinese mental health peer support group.

In addition, I am now participating in new WRAP workshops as a trainee facilitator. I do this because I want others to benefit from the WRAP training on their journey to recovery.

*Name changed to protect privacy