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.
- Expanding forced treatment in the form of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (often referred to as ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’ or AOT)
- Seeking to control and limit the ability of people working in peer roles
- Seeking to reduce or eliminate funding for anything that is not considered ‘evidence based’ (a status that can be challenging to come by for anyone offering an alternative approach)
- Seeking to exclude the voice of individuals for whom the mental health system has not worked effectively by using language that requires peer specialists and others speaking from personal experience to have been in ‘active treatment for the last two years,’ etc.
- Community Gives Week (Monday, November 16 to Sunday, November 22): Community Gives week will be a week-long fundraising drive following a model similar to that of Valley Gives.
- Public Talk with Robert Whitaker (early December): Journalist Robert Whitaker will join us in the Greenfield area for a fundraising event and public talk on his new book, ‘Psychiatry Under the Influence.’
STAY TUNED FOR MORE DETAILS!
- Our values
- Our various offerings
- Our approach to peer-to-peer support
- An overview of the Murphy Bill
- Ways you can take action to STOP the Murphy Bill
- A variety of related blogs and articles
More on the Bill:
In early June, an updated version of ‘Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis’ Act (HR 2646) was re-introduced by Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania to the United States Congress. Not surprisingly, the response to this controversial legislation has been mixed. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has fairly consistently come out in favor of bills that prioritize families and attempt to implement measures that increase access to force over their struggling relatives. In fact, the New York chapter of NAMI gave Murphy an award for his legislative advocacy just last year (following the release of the first version of the Murphy Bill). Fortunately, those in opposition took that opportunity to get vocal and protest the award ceremony, gaining some publicity for the efforts to prevent the Bill from passing.
NAMI now continues to show support as demonstrated by a letter from their Executive Director, Mary Gilberti, to Murphy himself (available by clicking here) congratulating him for taking steps to “improve mental health treatment, services and supports across the United States.”
NAMI’s letter was disappointing, but not a shock. Much more surprising was the testimony of Paul Gionfriddo (new President and CEO of Mental Health America (MHA) at the recent Murphy Bill hearing. MHA had previously been known for its consistent (and even outspoken) opposition to the Murphy Bill and other force-related legislation. Gionfriddo, however, is best known for using MHA as a platform from which to promote the idea of ‘four stages of mental illness’ and authoring a book (“Losing Tim”) where he details his own son’s experience with psychiatric diagnosis and homelessness. It would appear that, in his testimony, he spoke not only for himself, but also for MHA (an organization with historic roots in the movement) when professing his “full support.” His testimony is also available on our website: http://www.westernmassrlc.org/images/stories/Testimony-HE-Gionfriddo-H.R.2646-Mental-Health-2015-6-16.pdf.