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.
For more info on the training, please visit the
If you haven't filled out an application already
and would like to attend,
We cannot accept any more applications
after February 2nd.
In Massachusetts, there is a law called the ‘Five Fundamental Rights'. This law was implemented in 1998 as an amendment to the existing Massachusetts mental health laws. These rights are applicable to all residences and facilities that are operated, licensed or contracted by the Department of Mental Health (all psychiatric hospitals and residential programs, etc.).
For the last several years, advocates have also been pushing for a sixth fundamental right, often called the ‘Fresh Air’ bill. This bill has circled through the legislative process multiple times, but was finally signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in January of 2015, just before he left office. This bill, and related advocacy, have focused on the importance of access to the outside and fresh air, even while hospitalized in an inpatient setting. The text of the amendment adding in the sixth fundamental right reads:
While hearing voices is a relatively common human experience and not necessarily linked to distress, for some people it can be part of an overwhelming experience that can - for a time, at least, dominate their lives. While we often focus on the experience of the person going through this themselves, we don’t always give enough space for the friends and family members who may ill be equipped to walk alongside their loved one in their time of crisis. Though everyone is different, many friends and family members talk about feeling stuck in a maze without a map - desperately wanting to do the best for their loved one, but worried that what they say - or do - may make things worse.
This one-day workshop provides a supportive space for people to come together with others who know what it’s like to support someone through intense experiences. It will explore: different ways of making sense of voices, visions and overwhelming experiences; the impact of these experiences on friends, family & other loved ones; navigating conversations around unusual beliefs & experiences; practical ways of supporting a loved one through a crisis; coping strategies; steps towards ‘recovery’, self-care and knowing our own limits.
This workshop is free and open to anyone who identifies as ‘friend or family’ of someone with these experiences.
Thursday, April 16, 1pm to 3pm
1881 Worcester Rd, Framingham
An additional event in Boston is also being planned for the evening of Thursday, April 16!
Eleanor will be bringing her TedTalk (view it by clicking here!), and more, live to you! Learn about her experience with hearing voices and have an opportunity to ask questions. Free and open to the public. No sign up required.
Forced Outpatient Commitment (commonly referred to as ‘Assisted Outpatient Treatment’ or ‘AOT’) is a type of law allowing for individuals to be forced to take psychiatric medications, attend therapy, etc. against their will, even when living in the community. Massachusetts is currently one of only a small handful of states that have refused to implement this type of law. However, in a devastating blow to local advocates, an ‘AOT Pilot’ was ordered. The decision read as follows:
“The department shall expend not less than $250,000 to develop and implement an assisted outpatient treatment pilot program to treat residents who suffer from serious and persistent mental illness and experience repeated interaction with law enforcement or have a high rate of recurring hospitalization due to their mental illness, either through a voluntary agreement with the resident or by court order mandating that the resident receive the treatment described in this program; provided further, that the department shall report not later than June 1, 2015, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and the joint committee on mental health and substance abuse the progress and results of the pilot program and any identified barriers and challenges to treatment for the aforementioned treatment group.”
|Space limited to 12 participants!|