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.
The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community is currently
HELP SAVE THE RLCs!!!
To take action NOW, visit www.massrlcs.org
On March 4th, we learned that Governor Charlie Baker's budget for Fiscal Year 2016 includes a 50% cut to all Recovery Learning Community budgets across the state.
Join us on Wednesday, April 1 from 11am to 3pm for a Rally & Advocacy Day at the State House in Boston to SAVE THE RLCs!
Click HERE for a flyer and read our press release below for more details on the budget cuts.
On March 5th, new Governor, Charlie Baker, released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016 (beginning July 1). Included in the budget draft was a 50% cut to Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs) across the state. This would bring the RLC’s already very low statewide budget of 3.4 million (less than 1% of the Department of Mental Health’s [DMH] total budget for community-based Adult Mental Health) down to 1.7 million. This level of reduction is unprecedented and would serve as an incapacitating blow, including shutting down centers and other much needed and well utilized supports throughout Massachusetts.
There are six RLCs in total that are currently sharing the existing 3.4 million. Each RLC is built on a foundation of peer-to-peer support which means they are designed especially by and for individuals who have experienced psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, addiction and a variety of other life-disrupting challenges. Just a few examples of RLC supports include access to resource centers, support groups (Alternatives to Suicide, parenting, substance abuse, etc.), bridger supports to people transitioning back to community from hospitalization, assistance with housing and job searches, youth-oriented gatherings, and much more. RLCs first began to be funded in 2007 and have gained steam rapidly since that time, now including critical educational events for the broader public, as well.
One might assume that the budget cuts suggest a lack of overall success has been identified with the RLC approach. However, just the opposite is true: RLCs have had great success and gained national and international attention for their work. In 2014, the University of Massachusetts Medical School (in partnership with Recovery Research Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center and DMH’s Research Center of Excellence) conducted a study of RLC outcomes and found that RLCs are demonstrating tremendous impact in multiple areas. A sampling of positive outcomes included supporting people to reduce re-hospitalizations (82%), take steps to address existing substance abuse issues (74%), avoid additional involvement with the corrections system (93%), improve housing situation (38%), and take steps toward or gain employment (37%).
Have you checked out psresources.info?
This website was developed in the fall of 2014 and offers a growing number of resources, including articles relevant to peer-to-peer support, helpful on-line links, and - most importantly - free downloads of a new Handbook on Peer Roles.
Side 1: The Provider’s Handbook on Developing & Implementing Peer Roles:
This side of the book - geared toward people in provider roles - was developed by Lyn Legere in partnership with the Western Mass RLC and Western Mass Peer Network.
Side 2: A Handbook for Individuals Working in Peer Roles:
This side of the book-geared toward people working in peer roles-was developed by the Western Mass RLC and Western Mass Peer Network.
Between the two sides, topics include: Job descriptions, hiring, supervision issues, identifying what is and isn’t a task of a peer role, language, navigating the tricky waters of being a change agent, history of peer roles, and much, much more!
Be sure to check out www.psresources.info for more!
In August of 2013, Eleanor took much of the world by storm with her 14-minute Ted Talk, ‘The Voices in My Head.’ What she shared about her own experience and how she’s come to understand and make meaning of it has helped challenge many myths and media-driven misconceptions of what it means to hear voices.
In April, Eleanor will travel from the United Kingdom to join us in New England to share her story and interact with audiences throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Although some details are still being finalized, here’s what we know:
Get a preview by watching Eleanor’s
Ted Talk here:youtu.be/syjEN3peCJw
We've completed a 25-minute film about Afiya and the concept of peer respite, and it’s available for viewing online any time of the day or night at www.afiyahouse.org!
Topics covered in the film include:
- A brief history of peer respite
- Myths & Misconceptions
- A bit about Afiya house (how long you can stay, etc.)
- A personal story of someone who has stayed at the house
The Career Initiatives Project is intended to create opportunities for people who have ideas for small businesses or independent projects and have limited or no access to seed money to get their ideas rolling into reality. Funds for this project are very limited, and successful candidates will be those who:
- Live in Western Massachusetts
- Have been personally impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, extreme states, trauma and other challenges that have gotten in the way of their ability to explore and achieve their dreams
- Have a clear vision for your business or independent project
- Are self-driven and motivated to reach project goals
- Navigating the Maze, with Rai Waddingham
- Community Forum: Racism, Trauma, Psychiatry and Healing Communities
- Update to the Five Fundamental Rights Bill: Fresh Air Bill Passed!
- Hearing Voices Events this Spring
- ALERT: Update on Forced Outpatient Commitment in Massachusetts
- On-Line Continuing Education Credits for Doctors & Clinicians: Mad in America