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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Welcome to the Western Mass Recovering Learning Community

 

 

The Western Mass Recovery Learning Community (RLC) supports healing and empowerment for our broader communities and people who have been impacted by psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, extreme states, homelessness, addiction and other life-interrupting challenges through:

  • Peer-to-peer support & genuine human relationships
  • Alternative Healing Practices
  • Learning Opportunities
  • Advocacy

Essential to our work is recognizing and undoing systemic injustices such as racism, sexism, transphobia and psychiatric oppression.

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The 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, three resource centers (Springfield, Greenfield, and Holyoke) 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 Recovery Learning Community (RLC) is a peer-run project providing supports to individuals with lived experience.  One of the founding concepts behind the RLC is that human relationships with people are healing, particularly when those people have similar experiences.  And so, above all else, the RLC strives to create forums through which human relationships, community and a regional network of supports can develop.  On a day-to-day basis, that effort may take the form of a community meeting, a support group, a computer workshop and/or simply offering a safe space where people can communicate with others or simply be.  The RLC also acts a clearing house for information about other resources in the community.   

 The Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community is funded, in part, by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the United Way of Franklin County, and a variety of private foundations and donations.liveunited logo

 

COMMUNITY_HAPPENINGS

New 'STOP THE MURPHY BILL' Website Page

The RLC now offers a new 'STOP THE MURPHY BILL' website page including:STOP the Murphy Bill
  • 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.

Fortunately, several other powerful organizations are speaking up in  opposition against the Murphy Bill. These include (but are not limited to):
  • The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
  • The Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center
  • The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery
 
There’s also a powerfully written petition making the rounds as developed by the Campaign for Real Change in Mental Health Policy. The text of the petition reads as follows:
 
“The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced by Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA), is a sweeping bill that promises “reform,” but would actually return the nation’s state mental health systems to many of the failed policies of the past. 
  • Many provisions of the bill would significantly curtail the civil rights of people with psychiatric diagnoses, including an increase in forced treatment and restrictions on the federal protection and advocacy system.
  • The bill is inconsistent with scientific understanding of the cause and treatment of mental health issues. It ignores the significant role of toxic stress and trauma, precludes many interventions that have been proven effective, and does not make allowances for cultural differences known to affect   diagnosis, treatment and help-seeking behavior. 
  • The bill uses language that dismisses the possibility of recovery, and effectively promotes a return to harmful institutional services over evidence-based practices in the community. 
  • The bill does not approach mental health as a public health problem. It explicitly restricts funding for primary prevention programs and would prevent the federal mental health authority from working to promote wellness.
  • The bill ignores the progress made over the past 20 years.  It promotes a narrow, professionally focused system of care, in stark contrast to current thinking in healthcare, which is moving rapidly to implement patient-centered care, shared decision-making, and self-management of chronic conditions.
 
A link to this petition, statements from all the previously mentioned organizations, and a variety of other blogs and information is available at:

www.westernmassrlc.org/stop-the-murphy-bill

Together, we can STOP THE MURPHY BILL!

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