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.
As of September 15, H.R. 2646 (‘Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis’ Act or ‘The Murphy Bill’) had 118 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives, including 83 Republics and 35 Democrats.
Meanwhile, Representative Tim Murphy continues to make the rounds, taking advantage of tragedy to push the bill’s regressive reforms which include:
- Re-directing funds from community supports to an increase in hospitalization and institutionalization
- Increasing the use of force (for example, Involuntary Outpatient Commitment [also referred to as Assisted Outpatient Treatment or AOT]) which allows for people to be required to take psychiatric medications, attend therapy, attend day programs, etc. at threat of loss of freedom if they refuse)
- Increasing controls on and limiting the use and impact of peer supporters
- Decreasing access to advocacy and rights supports provided through places such as the Disability Law Center
- Loosening privacy protections so that personal information can be much more easily disclosed to family members and others who identify as ‘care providers’
Have you spoken to your state Representative? Even Representatives who have already signed on as co-sponsors are able to withdraw their names, so it’s worth speaking to them either way.
Click "Read more" below for some ideas of things to say!
when the fifth cycle of the Greenfield Community Development Block grant the RLC has shared with Recover Project comes to an end. This funding has gone primarily toward supporting our space at 74 Federal Street, as well as some additional hours for team members. (A handful of other team member hours based in Greenfield will continue to be funded through the Department of Mental Health.)
While the RLC is firm in its belief that our community is about people and not spaces, our Greenfield Center has served as an important gathering point. It has been a place for us to come together to cocreate a healing environment in which we can gather strength with and from one another.
The space itself is also a visual representation of the power of our community when it comes together. Indeed, it was members of our community in collaboration with members of the Recover Project community (often one and the same) who came together to turn an old broken-down comic book shop with holes in the wall, and stained carpet, into the beautiful space that it has since become.
The Western Mass RLC’s 2015/2016 Career Initiatives Grants were awarded and officially began in September, 2015. These grants are intended to support individuals who might otherwise not have access to the needed resources to pursue independent projects or start small businesses. This year’s awards are as follows:
Andrea A (Franklin County)—Andrea is continuing her project to raise awareness of lifestyle and community spirit through photography. This project is an artistic and professional photography pursuit with an intensive concentration on photo-editing and creating prints.
- 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.