Empowerment Photography Gallery

Using digital cameras, participants in this study took pictures depicting the impact of Wellness Recovery Action Planning on their health and mental health recovery. They invite you to view their photographs and learn how these pictures depict their personal recovery journeys. To read more about this research, click here.

Click on a photo to read the photographer's description...

Image: "Standing Tall in the Storm"Image: "Standing Tall in the Storm"

"Standing Tall in the Storm"
Photographer: JPR

This picture represents my life. The way all of the storms and all of the struggles I’ve had used to knock me down. But, for the last 6 years, I’ve stood strong. That’s because of WRAP. I have a daily maintenance plan. I do things every day to help me stay well. I learned through WRAP. I now have ways to work with bad feelings and thoughts. No matter what happens around me, I have a plan of action and support network, the education, the phone numbers to call, and the people that care about me around me. I will be fine in the midst of the storm.
Image: "You are what you eat"Image: "You are what you eat"

"You are what you eat"
Photographer: VB

We have a nurse that…comes in and makes sure [we’re okay] every day. “You take your [blood pressure] medicine this morning?” [She helps us] keep up with it, like when I was eating chips and junk food, she would come and talk to me. My [blood] pressure just kept going up and down, up and down. She said, “You’re eating potato chips…and lunch meats, cold cuts, and junk food.” I had to quit! And, my pressure’s gotten better. Yep…you are what you eat, for sure. So I’m getting better, getting involved in my health.

Image: "Looking Back" Image: "Looking Back"

"Looking Back"
Photographer: CJ

This reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in buildings like this one, in the projects. Taking that picture inspires me to get my life together, to leave the drugs alone. You know, to do better for myself. I use my WRAP on a constant basis. That’s where I came from and, if I kept messing with drugs, that’s where I’d be.

Image: "Choices for Wellness" Image: "Choices for Wellness"

"Choices for Wellness"
Photographer: AF

These are mushrooms that we picked on an adventure. I am into nutrition. I really made a mess out of my life because of my sickness and bad decisions. So, now, I try to purify and cleanse the temple of my life. I want to continue leading a nutritionally sound life and trying to find new experiences…whatever comes down the line as things to do for my wellness.

Image: "Getting Fit!" Image: "Getting Fit!"

"Getting Fit!"
Photographer: BB

[I use this book in WRAP] to rate myself on what I need to do more of, or what I need to concentrate on more [to be healthy]. Like my exercise. I don’t exercise, period. [That’s] coming from a kid that used to practice Marshal Arts. I used to lift weights, I used to run. Now, the most exercise I probably do is with the remote! So, I am working on that. Spring is coming and I want to be fit.

Image: "Staying on Track" Image: "Staying on Track"

"Staying on Track"
Photographer: CJ

My computer -- that is what I use for my job search at the Workforce Center. You have to sign up and have this little card. I use that one-stop for everything…fax, calls, check my email. I had several interviews and I have not gotten a job yet, but I am getting close.

Image: "Cultural Pride" Image: "Cultural Pride"

"Cultural Pride"
Photographer: JPR

I learned that I can use my cultural background as a wellness tool. For example, if I need some comfort food, there is a neighborhood where Puerto Ricans are concentrated in the city. There are many restaurants where I can go and eat. The fact that flags are there, gives me a sense of cultural identity. The music, the dancing -- the things I take from my culture -- have become my wellness tools!

Image: "I’m a Work in Progress" Image: "I'm a Work in Progress"

"I'm a Work in Progress"
Photographer: CJ

Yes, [I do take medications], and I am going to continue to use the tools that I learned from the WRAP class to try and get my life back on track. I am going to continue to stay sober, stay clean, and drug free.

Image: "My Fridge" Image: "My Fridge"

"My Fridge"
Photographer: CJ

I took this picture because it is mine. It’s inside my apartment. I know if I did not get my life together like I did, I wouldn’t have a fridge or an apartment to take a picture of. I don’t want to mess that up for anything or anybody. I pay my bills on time, and I know that if I didn’t pay attention to what I learned in WRAP that I would lose that.

Image: "Healing through Massage" Image: "Healing through Massage"

"Healing through Massage"
Photographer: YS

My girlfriend and me, once a month we go for a full body massage at a massage school. It’s less expensive than if we went to a regular place. It’s healing and they say it takes toxins out of your body. It feels good. It’s something that I look forward to.

Image: "Walking Path" Image: "Walking Path"

"Walking Path "
Photographer: YS

This is a walking path by my sister’s. I took this because I feel that the road to recovery may have twists and turns, but you always must go forward, regardless of what your setbacks are. Also, there are many bridges to cross when you have mental illness. There are bridges to cross and that’s part of recovery, too.

Image: "No Limits" Image: "No Limits"

"No Limits"
Photographer: AF

That’s where I fish. It’s a bit of a challenge for me to get to because I’ve got a bad leg. When I stand there, there is not really a beginning or an end. If you look at the sky line, and just in that direction, you can see that there is a limitless view. I relate this to WRAP because it shows that there is huge potential for growth. It’s the idea that total recovery is possible; that there are no limits; that the hope I have is beyond what I can really even see.

Image: "Messenger of Hope" Image: "Messenger of Hope"

"Messenger of Hope"
Photographer: JPR

I used to be a patient here. And now, I have the keys to get in. I facilitate WRAP groups in Spanish and I have not been back to the hospital again [as a patient]. I want to be more active in the hospital because I see the need for it. Young people that come from other countries find themselves in the hospital with no one that calls, no one that visits, and they don’t know what to do or where to go. With WRAP, I am trying to give them hope and to see there are things you can do for yourself. I take that message into the hospital

Image: "Reflecting my Accomplishments" Image: "Reflecting my Accomplishments "

"Reflecting my Accomplishments "
Photographer: RL

These are a lot of certificates for classes I took when I was incarcerated. Until my first WRAP class, I didn’t speak on none of this. WRAP opened me up to see what I have, what I’ve done, and what it took for me to get what I got. I didn’t think any of it meant anything until then.

Image: "Plants and Polish" Image: "Plants and Polish "

"Looking Back"
Photographer: VB

That’s my plants, that’s my table, that’s my fingernail polish. This picture is just of the little, green finger I have! My plants keep me going when I’m getting depressed, keep me focusing and feeling like I’m staying involved. I play music and I talk to them. They keep me calm and active, watching them growing.

Image: "Lifeline" Image: "Lifeline "

"Lifeline "
Photographer: BB

Now that’s my phone. Without my phone, I would be nowhere. When I’m in a “hot spot,” that is my fire alarm there. Whenever something arises where I know I’m about to get sick or something’s coming down on me, I have a lot of important people’s numbers in there to help me.

Image: "Security" Image: "Security"

Photographer: JPR

That is my little humble apartment that I have been maintaining and keeping up – the electricity and gas, and all the other responsibilities that come with maintaining the apartment. At one point in my life, I had lost it and I was homeless. My apartment gives me security, it’s my refuge. The picture reminds me that I want to preserve it. I am happy where I am at.

Image: "Freedom" Image: "Freedom"

Photographer: JR

This picture is my car and it represents freedom to me. It’s a way that I can get out. And getting out, as far as my recovery, means getting out of myself. And that’s really, really important. Just sitting in the house by myself is real bad for me. I need to get out for my wellness, even if it’s going to the library or I like to go to thrift stores. I go to my support group meetings or to choir. I couldn’t do those things if I didn’t have a car.

Image: "Rock Collection" Image: "Rock Collection"

"Rock Collection"
Photographer: JR

This is my rock collection. We live in a very beautiful and wonderful world. I can keep focused on that instead of the bad things that go on in the world. Getting out and digging in the garden is communing with Mother Nature, and I can be surrounded by things that are really beautiful. I know that even though some bad things have happened…the sun comes out again.

Image: "A Symbol" Image: "A Symbol"

"A Symbol "
Photographer: YS

This is my computer. I never thought I would have one because they are expensive and I’m always on a tight budget. To me, being able to come from being poor, not rich and able to afford a computer, it’s got something to do with my independence. My computer is a symbol of where I’ve been and where I’ve come to now in my life.