Welcome to the Western Mass Recovering Learning Community
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) creates conditions that support healing and growth for individuals and the community as a whole through learning opportunities, advocacy, peer-to-peer support and the development of regional and national networks. We believe that human relationships are often at the center of what heal people who have experienced extreme emotional distress, trauma, psychiatric diagnoses, addiction and a variety of other challenges in life. We also believe that we are a part of a civil and human rights movement and that real change does not happen on a sustainable level unless everyone is involved in the process and issues like discrimination, poverty, imbalances of power and acceptance of natural diversity are addressed.
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) is made up of PEOPLE (not places) and is wherever and however YOU and others from the community may choose to connect. Together, we offer a variety of events, workshops, trainings, advocacy and leadership councils, as well as a peer support line, four resource centers (Springfield, Greenfield, Holyoke and Pittsfield) and a Peer Respite in Northampton. Above all else, we create space for anyone who has a genuine interest in taking part in our community and holding its values to share and find connection, information, ideas and opportunities to make change in their own lives and/or the community around them. Our shared experiences and ‘humanness’ are what unite us. Our stories, collective wisdom and strength are what guide us and our community forward.
On Friday, July 11th, Governor Deval Patrick had the opportunity to sign a budget that did or did not include a $250,000 pilot program for so-called Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT). Much to the dismay of many advocates against forced treatment, Patrick failed to veto the portion of the budget that contained the pilot program funds.
AOT is also known as ’Outpatient Forced Commitment’ (OFC) or Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) by many. It is a program by which individuals who are seen as at risk of doing something dangerous, or repeated hospitalizations, may be forced to comply with a variety of treatment recommendations (psychiatric drugs, therapy, day programs, etc.) in order to remain free in the community. Many advocates against OFC refer to it as probation for people who haven’t actually done anything wrong. Many studies have also suggested that in states where OFC has been implemented, it has been applied in ways that are discriminatory and fail to address some of the real harms caused by the treatments forced. Studies that report positive results typically do not separate out the impact of improvements resulting from increased funding to high-quality voluntary supports and forced treatment orders. Advocates in favor of OFC also typically fail to account for why most of the recently publicized tragedies that proponents claim OFC will prevent have occurred in states where OFC already exists. Up until the point of this pilot program, Massachusetts has been one of only six states that have resisted implementing an OFC program.
At this stage, implementation of the pilot program is in the hands of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services who will likely turn responsibilities over to the Department of Mental Health for next steps.
Although we can’t undo the budget at this point, there may still be value in letting Deval Patrick’s office (888.870.7770) know what you think of the decision. We will report further on the state’s plan for implementation as soon as we know more.
It is clear that we need to grow stronger as a community in how we approach advocacy and getting heard on these issues.
Click on the box above for more information!
Your Help Needed!
Thursday, October 9th to Sunday, October 12th
- You’re Gonna Miss Me
- Open Dialogue
- and the Western Mass RLC’s own Beyond the Medical Model