Friday, 15 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.


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





Guiding Council of Western Mass

Our Present, Our Past, Our Future



Our Present:

The Guiding Council of Western Massachusetts (GCOW) serves as the advisory board to the Western Mass RLC. It is made up primarily of individuals who have lived experience with mental health diagnoses, extreme states and/or trauma who live and/or work in our region. GCOW members gather every month to represent each county of Western Mass and hold the 'big picture' of the RLC's development, helping to shape its direction and growth.




All GCOW meetings are open to anyone from the community who has lived experience or who is a friend, family member or ally to the RLC and recovery movement, although only Council Delegates are able to participate in any formal votes. Meetings generally take place at the RLC's Holyoke Center on the first Monday of each month from 1 to 3pm. (The meeting automatically moves to the 2nd Monday of the month in the event of a holiday or snow day on the first.) Confirmed dates for each GCOW meeting are listed in the monthly calendar.

American Sign Language interpreters are routinely scheduled, though will be canceled if no one who is deaf or hard-of-hearing confirms that they will be in attendance.

Current Council Delegates:

Hampshire County

Sara Langesth

Margo McMahon (Founding Member)

Hampden County

Lee Mendoza

Margaret Osei (Founding Member)

Vito Sorel

Berkshire County

Bonnie Jones (Founding Member)

Franklin County

Sarah Mouser

Cindi Oldham

Carol Star


Our Past:

GCOW formed in the summer of 2006 as an independent body made up exclusively of individuals with lived experience. At that time - based on years of advocacy from individuals within the recovery movement - the Department of Mental Health (DMH) was giving serious consideration to funding the  formation of peer-run communities. The Transformation Center encouraged and supported GCOW to form in Western Mass to ensure that the recovery community would have a strong voice in how those peer-run communities came together.

GCOW gained momentum quickly, often having as many as 30 individuals in attendance at their meetings. They took time to develop vision, create what are now the Western Mass RLC's Defining Principles and interview organizations with whom to partner when DMH was ready to accept proposals.

In the fall of 2006, after interviewing four candidates, GCOW selected The Western Mass Training Consortium as their partnering agency.  Together, they responded to DMH's request for proposals for the creation of the first Recovery Learning Communities that same winter, with GCOW always in the lead of the visioning process.

When the RLC grant for Western Mass was officially awarded to The Consortium in May of 2007, GCOW transitioned into its current role as the advisory board to the RLC.

This grassroots process involved in the formation of GCOW and its impact on the development of the Western Mass RLC is unique and core to the roots the RLC's mission and true purpose.

We would like to thank our founding members of GCOW for all their work and for helping us make history!  Founding GCOW members included:

Cheryl Stevens, Shelly Bowen (in whose honor the Bowen Resource Center is now named), Patrick Austin, Linda Rost, Margo McMahon, Gayle Kushner, Karran Larson, John Paul Whiting, Deborah Duncan, Karen Lowe, Marcia Webster, Mary Rives, Margaret Osei, June Kaz, Carol Ritter, Bonnie Jones, Chaya Grossberg and many others who took part in all the hard work and joys of building the foundation upon which the RLC has grown. 

Founding members of GCOW also included current RLC workers, Oryx Cohen, Sera Davidow and Janice Sorensen.


Our Future:

GCOW is in need of new Council Delegates

It is GCOW's goal to have a minimum of two and up to four Council Delegates representing each county of Western Mass. Council Delegates are individuals who identify as having lived experience and who are able to commit to attending GCOW meetings on a monthly basis to represent their county and have a voice in how the RLC moves forward. When a formal vote is needed to solidify GCOW's recommendations to the RLC, Council Delegates are also the only ones able to vote.

Council Delegates generally make a commitment of one year beginning in September and ending in August. (New members are accepted throughout the year based on vacancies and will be asked to commit to however much of the year is remaining up to August.)

If you are interested in applying to be a Council Delegate, please complete the application below or send an inquiry to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (413) 539-5941 ext. 203.









Helpful Links

The links below are intended as a guide in your pursuit to connect with other people and websites that may offer helpful information or resources.
Please note:  This page is not intended as a recommendation of any of the websites or services listed.  It is for informational purposes only. Although we include some traditionally-oriented resources and web pages, listings intentionally focus more on alternatives to medical model approaches and ways of thinking.  This is not because we are against more familiar and medical perspectives and approaches.  It is because we are aware that many people are never given the opportunity to explore alternatives and information on less standard approaches can be very difficult to find.  Ultimately, we support people in their efforts to be fully informed and to choose the path that works best for them. 
Massachusetts Recovery Learning Communities (RLCs):
In addition to the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, there are five other Recovery Learning Communities funded in the state of Massachusetts. Each RLC is unique, and available supports and approaches vary from one to another. They include:
  • The Central Mass RLC: http://www.centralmassrlc.org/  - Offers a variety of community supports in the Central Mass area, with their hub based in Worcester
  • The Southeast RLC:  www.southeastrlc.org - Offers a variety of community supports in the Southeast area, with hubs in Taunton and elsewhere in the region.
  • The Northeast RLC: www.nilp.org/rlc.html- Offers a variety of community supports in the Northeast area, with their hub based in Lawrence
  • The Metro Suburban RLC:  www.metrosubrlc.org- Offers a variety of community supports in the Metro Suburban area, with hubs in Quincy and Framingham.
  • The Metro Boston RLC:  www.metrobostonrlc.org - Offers a variety of community supports in the Metro Boston area, with their hub based in Boston
Peer Worker Resources:
These organizations offer training, support and networking opportunities to individuals working as (or interested in working as) peer workers.
  • Focus on Recovery - United: www.focusonrecovery.org/- A peer organization offering a variety of trainings in neighboring Connecticut 
  • Mary Ellen Copeland Center: www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/ - Offering information and training in Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP)
  • Intentional Peer Support:  www.intentionalpeersupport.org - Offering training in Shery Mead's Intentional Peer Support model
  • International Association of Peer Supporters:  www.naops.org/ - Private, non-profit dedicate to peer support in mental health systems
  • The Transformation Center:  www.transformation-center.org - Operating the Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) training program in Massachusetts
Peer-to-Peer Organizations:
The organizaztions listed below are run by people who have 'been there' and with the intent of supporting others who are struggling and/or changing the world.  They offer a variety of resources, supports and information.  The list includes a mix of national or international organizations and regionally based groups that are within range of Western Massachusetts.
  • Advocacy Unlimited:  www.mindlink.org - Dedicated to advocacy, human rights and peer-to-peer support
  • Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA): www.dbsalliance.org - Peer-run support groups for individuals labelled with depression and bipolar disorder
  • Freedom Center:  www.freedom-center.org- Advocacy, supports and information in the Northampton, MA are
  • The Icarus Project:  www.theicarusproject.net/- An international community offering resources and support
  • Hearing Voices USA: www.hearingvoicesusa.org - An organization supporting the spread of the Hearing Voices approach across the United States and building understanding about hearing voices
  • Intervoice:  www.intervoiceonline.org/- An international community for individuals who hear voices and information on Hearing Voices group
  • Mindfreedom, International:  www.mindfreedom.org - An international community offering resources, information and activism
  • M-POWER:  www.m-power.org - Advocacy and activism on issues pertaining to recovery and mental health  
  • The National Empowerment Centerwww.power2u.org/ - Offering technical assistance, advocacy and empowerment related to mental health recover
  • The National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse:  http://www.mhselfhelp.org/ - Website offering resources, training curricula and information
  • The RECOVER Project:  www.recoverproject.org/ - Providing peer-to-peer support to individuals who have been impacted by substance abuse and addictions (based in Greenfield, MA)
  • World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP):  www.wnusp.net - A network of individuals and groups challenging discrimination, human rights violations and other issues pertaining to our movement across the world

Local Community Organizations:
The organizations listed below are community-based in the Western Mass area and offer a variety of resources and supports.
  • After Incarceration Support Systems Program (AISS): www.hcsdmass.org/aiss.htm - Funded through the Hampden County Sherriff's office, this program provides a variety of supports to individuals in Hampden County who have been incarcerated and are attempting to re-integrate into the community
  • Amherst Survival Center:  www.amherstsurvival.org/ - Providing free meals, food and other supports to individuals in need in the Amherst area
  • Center for Self Reliance: www.communityaction.us/index.php?id=363- Storefront food pantries based in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls
  • Community Crisis Response Team (CCRT): http://www.communityaction.us/index.php?id=366 - Providing supports to individuals who have experienced violence or a tragedy in their lives (focus on Hampshire and Franklin Counties)
  • Everywoman's Center: www.umass.edu/ewc/ - Information and referral to a variety of resources as well as rape crisis services, educational opportunities, leadership networks and alternative counseling supports
  • First Call for Help: www.communityaction.us/index.php?id=368 - Providing referrals to a number of community resources and supports in the Franklin, Hampshire, North Quabbin and Hampden County areas
  • Franklin Area Survival Center:  www.survivalcenter.blogspot.com/ - Offering a food pantry and other supports to individuals in the Franklin County area (based in Turners Falls)
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Masswww.namiwm.org/ - Providing support and resources to individuals diagnosed with a mental illness, their families and the community in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden counties 
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness of Berkshire Countywww.namibc.org/ - Providing support and resources to individuals diagnosed with a mental illness, their families and the community in Berkshire County 
  • New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT): www.nelcwit.org/ - Serving individuals who have experience domestic or sexual violence in the Franklin County/North Quabbin area. This website is still under construction.
  • Northampton Survival Center: www.thensc.org/ - Providing food, clothing, household supplies and referrals to individuals in need in the Northampton area 
  • Safe Passage: www.safepass.org/ - Providing women and children with support needed to move forward after domestic violence (based in Northampton, MA)
  • Western Mass Training Consortium (The Consortium):  http://www.wmtcinfo.org/typolight/- A longstanding leader in peer community development and peer participatory process, the Consortium is the Western Mss RLC's umbrella organization
  • Womanshelter/Compañeras: www.womanshelter.org/ - Dedicated to supporting and empowering individuals whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence and abuse (based in Holyoke, MA)

Local Providers:

The organizations listed below offer traditional adult mental health and crisis services throughout Western Massachusetts.  Many of the organizations listed also provide other services including children's mental health services, sheltering, substance abuse treatment, employment supports and more.
  • The Behavioral Health Network:  www.bhninc.org - Mental health and crisis services in the Holyoke and Springfield areas
  • The Brien Center:  www.briencenter.org - Mental health and crisis services in Berkshire County
  • The Carson Center: www.carsoncenter.org - Mental health and crisis services in the Westfield area
  • The Center for Human Development:  www.chd.org - Mental health services in the Holyoke and Springfield areas
  • Community Enterprises:  www.communityenterprises.com - Mental health and employment supports, including for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
  • Clinical & Support Options:  www.csoinc.org - Mental health and crisis services in Hampshire and Franklin County
  • The Department of Mental Health:  www.mass.gov/dmh - The state government's Department of Mental Health website providing information on how to apply for state funded services and available resources
  • The Gandara Center:  www.gandaracenter.org - Mental health services with a focus on the latino/hispanic communities throughout Hampden county as well as neighboring communities
  • Gould Farm: www.gouldfarm.org - Mental health services in Monterey, MA
  • Hawthorne Serviceswww.hawthornservices.org/ - Mental health services and day programs in parts of Hampden County 
  • Human Resources Unlimited:  www.hru.org - Clubhouse/employment supports in Hampshire and Hampden counties
  • The Mental Health Association:  www.mhainc.org - Mental health services in Hampden County
  • River Valley Counseling Services: www.holyokehealth.com/rivervalley - Mental health services and day treatment in the Holyoke area 
  • ServiceNet, Inc.: www.servicenet.org - Mental health services primarily in Franklin and Hampshire counties
  • Valley Human Services: www.carsoncenter.org/programs/thecarsoncenterfor2/ - Mental health services in the Ware/Palmer area
  • Walden Behavioral Care: www.waldenbehavioralcare.com/ - Mental health services with a specialty in treatment of individuals diagnosed with eating disorders (based in Northampton and Waltham, MA)
  • Windhorse Integrative Mental Healthwww.windhorseimh.org - Menth health services in the Northampton area offering a whole person integrated approach to wellness 
Hospitals W/Psychiatric Services:
The hospitals listed below offer inpatient mental health services, as well as, in some cases, partial hospitalization programs in Western Massachusetts.

 Medication Information & Resources Online:

This listing contains links to a variety of resources on learning about particular psychiatric medications, as well as the process of withdrawing from medication

  • Alternative to Meds Center:  www.alternativetomeds.com - Offers alternative, holistic approaches to treatment for drugs, substance abuse and mental health issues.  Based in Sedona, Arizona.
  • Anti Dep Aware:  http://antidepaware.co.uk/ - A website dedicated to raising awareness of some of the potential dangers of antidepressant use
  • Benzodiazepines Co-operation Not Confrontation (BCNC):  www.bcnc.org.uk/ - A group dedicated to supporting people who are reducing or withdrawing from benzodiazepines
  • Coming Off Psychiatric Medication: www.comingoff.com- Resources, research, stories and more related to coming off of psychiatric medication
  • Drug Industry Document Archive:  dida.library.ucsf.edu/ - A searchable archive of internal documents from pharmaceutical companies
  • Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP): www.ismp.org/ - A site for professionals and individuals in the community providing information and resources toward the safe use of medications
  • Critical Think Rx: www.criticalthinkrx.org/ - An free on-line training curriculum encouraging critical thought and deeper understanding of the use of psychotropic medications.  May be taken by anyone, but offers continuing education credits for many mental health practitioners and attorneys
  • Med Free or Working On It:  www.medfree.socialgo.com/ - A group dedicated to supporting people who wish to withdraw from medications
  • Medline Plus: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/mentalhealth.html - The National Institutes of Health-sponsored website offering information on various medications and other related topics 
  • Paxil Progress:  www.paxilprogress.org/forums/ - A forum dedicated to people in the process of withdrawing from Paxil
  • Recovery Road:  www.recovery-road.org- Dedicated to mutual support around benzo and antidepressant withdrawal
  • Rxisk:  www.rxisk.org - Dedicated to tracking and sharing information about side-effects from all kinds of medications
  • Rxlist:  www.rxlist.com - Resources here include listing of medications with some side effect, a pill identifier and more
  • Surviving Antidepressants:  survivingantidepressants.org/ - An on-line peer-to-peer support community for people withdrawing from antidepressant medications
  • WebMD:  www.webmd.com - Offers information on various emotional and physical health issues from a traditional perspective

National & International Organizations:

This listing contains links to a variety of national and international organizations that have missions relating to mental health.

  • American Psychiatric Association (APA): www.psych.org/ - Offers a variety of information and resources on psychiatry and mental health
  • American Psychological Association (APA): www.apa.org/ - Offers a variety of information and resources on psychology and mental health 
  • National Council  for Community Behavioral Healthcare: www.thenationalcouncil.org/- Offers a unifying voice of America's behavioral health organizations
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml - Dedicated to transformationg the understanding and treatment of mental health issues 
  • International Critical Psychiatry Network (ICPN):  www.criticalpsychiatry.net/ - Created by medical doctors as a forum in which to discuss, critique and explore psychiatry and alternative approaches
  • International Network of Integrative Mental Health (INIMH): www.inimh.org/ - A global organization created to advance holistic approaches to healing
  • International Network Toward Alternatives and Recovery (INTAR): www.intar.org/ - A network of individuals all over the world working together to promote alternatives and recovery 
  • International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry (ISEPP):  www.psychintegrity.org/ - A group dedicated to bringing together people who work to find, develop, promote and use human approaches to supporting people in extreme emotional distress
  • International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS):  www.isps.org - Dedicated to advancing and promoting treatment options for people who experience 'psychosis'
  • Recovery International:  http://www.lowselfhelpsystems.org - Dedicated to the development of cognitive-behavioral, peer-to-peer self-help groups across the nation
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): www.samhsa.gov/ - Governmental agency dedicated to offering research, resources and grants related to recovery

Food & Body Image Issues:

These sites provide a variety of resources and information on body image issues and eating disorder diagnoses.

  • Academy for Eating Disorders (AED): www.aedweb.org/ - A global professional organization dedicated to training and advancement of treatment
  • Body Positivewww.bodypositive.com/ - Dedicated to 'Boosting body image at any weight' 
  • The Dressing Room Project: www.thedressingroomproject.org/ - A project to free girls and women from media-imposed standards of beauty
  • Eating Disorders Anonymous: www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org/ - Devoted to the idea that recovery means living without obsessing on food, weight and body image
  • Eating Disorder Referral and Information Centerwww.edreferral.com/ - On-line resource information and referral
  • Food Addicts Anonymous: www.foodaddictsanonymous.org/ - On-line resources, support and information
  • The Elisa Project: www.theelisaproject.org/ - Striving to provide resources and act as a change agent in healthcare policy and body image issues
  • Multiservice Eating Disorder Association (MEDA): www.medainc.org/ - Information, supports and resources
  • National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA): www.naafaonline.com - Providing resources, supports and advocacy toward acceptance of different body sizes
  • National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD):  http://www.anad.org/ - Support, advocacy and resource information
  • National Association for Males with Eating Disorders (NAMED): www.namedinc.org/ - Information and resources for men diagnosed with eating disorders
  • National Center for Overcoming Overeating www.overcomingovereating.com/ - Dedicated to ending dieting and body hatred
  • National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA): www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ - Advocacy, information and resources related to individuals diagnosed with eating disorders
  • Overeaters Anonymous: www.oa.org/ - Twelve-step support for individuals struggling with overeating and food addiction issues
  • Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders: www.something-fishy.org/ - A site dedicated to recovery for individuals labeled with eating disorders and/or struggling with body image issues (this might be not so great; review)

Substance & Addiction Issues

These sites offer a variety of supports and information related to substance and alcohol abuse and addiction issues.

  • The 12 Step Cafe: www.12steps.org/ - Forums, chat rooms and other supports and resources for individuals working a 12-step program 
  • Addicted.com: http://local.addicted.com - Resources, information and supports for individuals impacted by addiction issues 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous:  www.aa.org - Twelve-step recovery information and resources related to alcohol abuse 
  • Dual Diagnosis Website: users.erols.com/ksciacca/ - Information, resources and bulletin board pertaining to psychiatric diagnoses, drug and alcohol addiction 
  • Dual Recovery Anonymous:  www.draonline.org/ - Twelve-step recovery information and resources for individuals experiencing mental health and substance/alochol abuse issues 
  • Narcotics Anonymous:  http://www.na.org/- Twelve-step recovery information and resources related to substance abuse 
  • Treatment 4 Addictionwww.treatment4addiction.com/ - On-line resource database for addiction services, sober houses and more! 
  • Women for Sobriety: www.womenforsobriety.org/ - Information, supports and resources for women in substance abuse recovery


These sites offer resources and information pertaining to self-injury.

Autism & Neruodiversity

This list offers a variety of sites relating to Autism, Aspergers and neurodiversity.

  • Asperger's Assocation of New England: www.aane.org/ - Resources and information relating to Aspergers
  • Auties.org: www.auties.org/ - Networking and resources for individuals identifying as Autistic
  • Autism National Committee: www.autcom.org/ - Dedicated to 'Social Justiced for All Citizens with Autism'
  • The Autistic Self Advocacy Network: www.autisticadvocacy.org/ - Promoting equal access for individuals diagnosed with Autism and related disorders
  • Autreach Network: https://autreach.backpackit.com/pub/2906865 - A coalition of groups working to support inclusion and rights for individuals diagnosed with Autism
  • Neurodiversity:  www.neurodiversity.com/main.html - A site honoring the 'variety of human wiring'
  • Online Aspergers Syndrome Information and Support Centerwww.aspergersyndrome.org/ - On-line resources and information relating to Aspergers
Employment Resources:
This listing contains a variety of employment-related supports available in our area.
  • Berkshireworks: www.berkshireworks.org/ - A variety of employment resources are offered by this One Stop Career Center based in Pittsfield and Northa Adams
  • Careerpoint:    www.careerpointma.org/ - A variety of employment resources are offered by this One Stop Career Center based in Holyoke
  • Futureworks:   www.futureworks-now.com/ - A variety of employment resources are offered by this One Stop Career Center based in Springfiel
  • Franklin Hampshire Career Center:  www.fhcc-onestop.com/  - A variety of employment resources are offered by this One Stop Career Center based in Northampton, Greenfield and Orange 
  • Massachusetts Clubhouse Coalition:  www.massclubs.org/ - A website offering clubhouse information and local clubhouse locations and resources
  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/mrc/ - The website for this state-funded employment support offers information and local resources
Housing-Related Websites:
This listing contains websites offering housing-related resources, including shelters and other listings.
SSI/SSDI & Other Benefit Resources:
This listing contains a variety of websites offering resources on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Food Stamps and other benefits available in Massachusetts.
  • Beneplan:  www.beneplan.org/ - A website dedicated to the Beneplan program, offering assessment and support services for SSI/SSDI beneficiaries
  • Department of Transitional Assistance: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dta/ - Providing cash and food assistance to individuals and families in need
  •  Energy Programs:  www.communityaction.us/index.php?id=392 - Offering fuel assistance and other energy-related supports and information in Franklin and Hampshire Counties
  •  Getting Food Stamps:  www.gettingsnap.org/ - A website dedicated to helping you get Food Stamps in Massachusetts
  • Mass Resources on-line:  www.massresources.org - A website offering information about a variety of benefits in the state, including childcare, food and more
  • National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR):  http://www.nosscr.org/- Providing information, support and referrals for individuals claiming Social Security benefits and those representing them 
  • Social Security Administration:  www.ssa.gov/ - The government's Social Security site providing information and applications for SSI and Disability benefits
  • Social Security Disability Resource Center  (SSDRC)www.ssdrc.com/ - Information and resources on SSI and SSDI

Legal Services & Info:

This listing contains a variety of websites offering legal resources and information.

  • Americans with Disabilities Act Home Page: www.ada.gov/ - Offering information and technical assistance on ADA issues
  • Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry: www.chrusp.org/ - Advocacy organization for human rights of individuals who have received psychiatric labels
  • Center for Public Representation www.centerforpublicrep.org/ - A national law firm dedicated to serving individuals labeled with disabilities and to pursuing system change and enforcement of rights
  • CORI Reader:  http://www.masslegalservices.org/cori - A service of Mass Legal Services, this site is dedicated to helping advocates and individuals understand and/or correct their Criminal Offender Record report
  • Disability Law Center: www.dlc-ma.org/ - Private, non-profit legal advocacy organization responsible for providing legal advocacy on disability issues that promote the fundamental rights of all people to participate fully and equally in the social and economic life of Massachusetts 
  • Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF): www.dredf.org - Dedicated to advancing the civil and human rights of people with disabilities through legal advocacy, training, education, and public policy and legislative development 
  • Find Law:  www.findlaw.com/ - On-line resource on laws and a variety of legally-related topics 
  • Five Fundamental Rights Document www.m-power.org/5_fundamental_rights - List of the 'Five Fundamental Rights' held by any individual receiving services through any Department of Mental Health-licensed service in Massachusetts 
  • National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA): www.narpa.org/ - Promoting policies and strategies that support individuals with psychiatric diagnoses to self-determine treatment 
  • National Disability Rights Network (NDRN): www.ndrn.org/ - Protection and advocacy for individuals who have been labeled as having a disability 
  • Psychrights: www.psychrights.org/ - Providing information and advocacy on issues and rights impacting individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses 
  • Rogers Order Rulingwww.freedom-center.org/pdf/rogersruling.pdf - The legal document detailing the court's ruling around Rogers Orders 
  • Western Mass Legal Serviceshttp://www.masslegalservices.org/showprogramoffices/1485  - Providing legal advice, education and representation on non-criminal issues to individuals who qualify as low-income
Miscellaneous Related Links:
This listing contains a variety of websites including those with diagnosis-specific information as well as ones that just didn't quite fit into any of the other categories above.
  • Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation: www.bu.edu/cpr/about/index.html - Offers a variety of trainings and direct supports based out of Boston University, as well as on-line information and resource
  • The Community Consortiumwww.community-consortium.org/ - Providing technical assistance and support for building inclusive communities for individuals labelled with psychiatric disabilities 
  • Discover and Recover: discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/ - A website maintained by Duane Sherry offering resources and information on a number of topics
  • Healthlinewww.healthline.com - Website offering information and videos on a number of phsyical and mental-health related topics and diagnoses 
  • Mad Student Society:  www.madstudentsociety.com/ - A website for individuals who are both students and who are or have experienced the psychiatric system 
  • Philadelphia Association: www.philadelphia-association.org.uk/about-us.html - Founded by RD Laing, this group aims to challenge accepted ways of understanding and treating mental and emotional suffering.
  • PsychCentral.com: psychcentral.com/ - Information and resources on a variety of mental-health related issues 
  • Psychfacts.org:  www.psychfacts.org - A website designed to create access to easy-to-understand information from research and other sources to help people advocate for change, human rights and more
  • Robert Whitaker: www.robertwhitaker.org/robertwhitaker.org/ - Website for journalist, Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America and Anatomy of an Epidemic
  • Safe Harbor: www.alternativementalhealth.com/ - Resource information and referral for alternative mental health services 
  • Soteria: www.moshersoteria.com/ - Website focusing on Dr. Loren Mosher and the Soteria model of treatment for individuals diagnosed with Schizophrenia 
  • Successful Schizophrenia:  www.successfulschizophrenia.org - Website focusing on rethinking and offering an alternative to understanding what is commonly labeled as 'schizophrenia'
  • Thomas Szaz Center for Liberty and Responsibility:  www.szasz.com/ - A website dedicated to the life and work of Thomas Szaz and a different view into the extreme emotional states so often diagnosed in our culture

On-line Magazines and Radio Shows

This listing includes on-line magazines and radio shows which often address issues related to mental health and recovery.

  • Asylum Online - www.asylumonline.net -An on-line magazine dedicated to open debate and discussion of psychiatry, mental health care and alternatives
  • Channeling the Muse:  Radio show with Opeyemi Parham, often touching on subjects related to mental health and healing.  Listen to the live streaming show at www.wmcb.net on Fridays at 6pm or find old shows at www.archive.org by searching for 'audiofiles' (subject) and 'channeling the muse.' 
  • Mad in America:  www.madinamerica.com - An on-line source for articles, op-eds, blogs and more from national and international sources
  • Madness Radio:  www.madnessradio.net/ - Listen to streaming interviews with a variety of individuals to mental health and the recovery movement
  • Mindfreedom Radio:  www.blogtalkradio.com/davidwoaks - Find archived radio shows on a variety of topics including recovery stories, perspectives on mental health and more
  • Ragged Edge:www.ragged-edge-mag.com/ - An on-line magazine on disability issues

Healing & Recovery-Related Blogs (Written and Video)

These sites offer personal accounts of recovery from mental health and substance abuse struggles.

Spiritual Emergency Perspective

This listing offers links to information on spirituality, mental health and the spiritual emergency perspective.

Trauma Perspective

These links relate to trauma, trauma sensitivity and the trauma perspective.

  • The ACE Study: www.acestudy.org/ - The Adverise Childhood Experiences (ACE) website offering research-based information on the relationship between trauma and a number of other life experiences
  • The Anna Instituate:  http://www.theannainstitute.org/ - A site dedicated to educating people about the impact of childhood trauma 
  • Gift from Within:  www.giftfromwithin.org/ - A site dedicated to supporting individuals who identify as trauma survivors and their loved ones and supporters
  • Interational Society for the Study of Stress and Disassociation (ISST-D): www.isst-d.org/ - eeks to advance clinical, scientific, and societal understanding about the prevalence and consequences of chronic trauma and dissociation 
  • International Society for Traumatic Stress Studdies (ISTSS):  www.istss.org/Home.htm - A site geared toward professionals about the impact of trauma
  • Many Voices:  http://www.manyvoicespress.org/- Words of hope for people recovering from trauma & Dissociation (including a monthly on-line publication) 
  • The National Center for Trauma-Informed Care: http://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/about - A technical assistance website dedicated to building awareness and supporting implementation of trauma-informed care practices.
  • The National Trauma Consortium:  nationaltraumaconsortium.org/ - Dedicated to raising awareness about the prevalence and impact of trauma
  • The Sidran Foundation:  www.sidran.org/ - Providing a great deal of information and resources on trauma and related supports   
  • The Trauma Centerwww.traumacenter.org/ - Training, consultation and supports for individuals who have experienced trauma and those supporting them
  • Witness Justice:  www.witnessjustice.org/ - Help and healing for victims of violence

Gender & Sexuality

These links relate to experiences around gender roles, transgender and gender expression, sexuality and sexual orientation and so on.

  • The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN):  www.asexuality.org - Offering an on-line community and resources
  • Black Transmen, Inc:  www.blacktransmen.org - A website dedicated to support and resources for black trans men
  • The Brown Boi Project: www.brownboiproject.org  - A community that describies itself as being made up of "masculine of center womyn, men, two-spirit people, transmen, and our allies committed to transforming our privilege of masculinity, gender, and race into tools for achieving Racial and Gender Justice"
  • Bodies Like Ours:  www.bodieslikeours.org - A community of peer support and resources for people who are born intersexed and/or with atypical genitals
  • The Center for Gender Sanity:  http://www.gendersanity.com/ - An organization that supports all issues surrounding transition in the workplace
  • Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders: www.glad.org - Providing legal advocacy and information on GLTBQ-related issues (Boston-based)
  • Gay and Lesbian Arab Society:  www.glas.org - An international community for people who are of Arab descent and identify on the GLBTQ spectrum
  • Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA): www.glma.org - Health professional dedicated to advancing GLBT equality
  • Gender Education and Advocacy (GEA):  www.gender.org - An organization focused on the needs, issues and concerns of people who identify as "gender variant"
  • Ambiente Joven (Latino/Latina LGBT Youth):  www.ambientejoven.org - A website dedicated to young Latino/Latina people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum (IN SPANISH)
  • Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition:  www.masstpc.org - Dedicated to ending discrimination on gender identity and expression
  • Invisible No More:  www.invisible-no-more.weebly.com  - A peer-run group representing the Trans community in the Pioneer Valley
  • Keshet: www.keshetonline.org - A Jewish faith community for people who identify on the GLBTQ spectrum
  • The Network / La Red:  www.tnlr.org - A survivor-led organization for social justice and working toward ending LGBTQ partner violence (Boston area)
  • Original Plumbing:  www.originalplumbing.com - A zine and support dedicated to (Female to Male) Trans male lifestyles
  • OutNow:  www.outnowyouth.org - OutNow offers safe spaces, meetings, advocacy and more geared toward young people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum (Springfield based)
  • Queer Asian Pacific-Islander Alliance (QAPA):  www.qapa.org - A group dedicated to people of Asian Pacific-Islander descent who identify on the GLTBQ spectrum
  • Queer Attitude:  http://queerattitude.wikispaces.com/ - A world-wide network of young people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum or are questioning or uncertain
  • Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf:  http://www.deafrad.org/ - A website dedicated to deaf people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum
  • Sent(a)Mental Studios:  www.sentamentalstudios.weebly.com - A website dedicated to a number of issues, writing, art and more related gender identity and expression, sexuality and mental health
  • Stonewall Center:  www.umass.edu/stonewall/ - Support, education and advocacy on 'LGBTQ'-related issues for UMASS students, faculty and the broader Pioneer Valley
  • The Trevor Project:  www.thetrevorproject.org - Providing support to young people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum who are struggling with thoughts of suicide
  • Trans Bodies:  www.transbodies.com - A resource guide for the transgender community
  • Trans People of Color Coalition (TPOCC):  www.transpoc.org - A site dedicated to the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, class and making sure all voices are heard
  • xQsi Magazine: www.xqsimagazine.com - A multimedia publication for the Latin LGBTQ community
  • Youth Resource:  www.youthresource.com - A website created by and for young people who identify on the LGBTQ spectrum

Healing & The Arts

  • Anchorhouse Artists:  anchorhouseartists.org/ - Offering support to individuals diagnosed with mental illness who are seeking to make or expand creative arts careers
  • The Glassbook Project: http://glassbookproject.com/- A website about surviving and understanding the impact of trauma through art (creation of glass books). Their website requires the latest Flash update.
  • The Painted Brain:  http://paintedbrain.org/- A group of artists diagnosed with mental illness based in California who have created an on-line magazine
  • The Survivors Art Foundationwww.survivorsartfoundation.org/ - A website dedicated to encouraging healing through art
  • Tunefoolery:  www.tunefoolery.org/ - A boston-based group of individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are also musicians and offer solo and group performances

Young Adults

  • Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council:  www.presidentialyouthcouncil.org – A national campaign led by people age 16 through 24 to form a council to advise the president on issues affecting young people across the country.
  • Community Alliance for Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY):  www.cafety.org– a national organization led and drive by those with direct experience in residential care and works to promote and secure the human rights of young people in or at risk of residential placement.
  • National Youth Rights Organization (NYRA):  www.nyra.org– NYRA is dedicated to providing information and resources about and advocacy for the civil rights of young people.
  • Young People in Recovery (YPR)www.youngpeopleinrecovery.org – A national organization and advisory council led by young people offering training and leadership on issues relating to recovery from substance use and addiction.
  • Youth Move Nationalwww.youthmovenational.org– youth led national organization devoted to improving services and systems that support positive growth and development by uniting the voices of individuals who have lived experience in various systems including mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.

Social Connections

  • The Berkshires: www.berkshires.org/events - A website dedicated to the Berkshires, including local events
  • Flywheel Arts Collective:  www.flywheelarts.org - An arts collective in Easthampton, MA that offers ongoing low-cost concerts and other opportunities to gather in a sober environment
  • Food for Thought Books:  www.foodforthoughtbooks.com - A workers' collective bookstore based in Amherst, MA that also offers  a variety of events including book readings and film screenings
  • Franklin County Chamber of Commerce:  www.franklincc.org - This website offers a selection of events in Franklin County
  • Hilltown Families:  www.hilltownfamilies.org - A website dedicated to information sharing and events in the hilltowns of Western Mass
  • Lavender Country and Folk Dancers:  www.lcfd.org - A community of gender free dance clubs
  • Masslive:  www.masslive.com/events - Offering information on events in Hampden County
  • Men of Northampton:  www.monoho.com - A social and recreational group for gay men in Northampton
  • No Longer Lonely:  www.nolongerlonely.com/ - On line dating service and community for people who have been psychiatrically diagnosed
  • Meetup.com:  www.meetup.com - An on-line community to make connections and arrangements to meet up with groups who are interested in any number of topics and activities (Just enter an interest or hobby and your geographical area, and see what's already out there!)
  • Paper City Performance Space:  www.facebook.com/PaperCityPerformanceSpace - A new space based in Holyoke, MA that will offer concerts, art shows and other opportunities to gather in a sober environment
  • Western Mass Intergroup:  www.westernmassaa.org - This Western Mass chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous offers listings of a variety of AA-sponsored local events, as well as sober events sponsored by others in the area (from family picnics to dances and more)

Just for Fun Links:

These links are just for fun.  Some of them have absolutely nothing to do with mental health issues whatsoever, while others may take a satirical approach to otherwise serious issues.

  • Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research: www.bonkersinstitute.org/ - A satirical look at psychiatric treatment and related topics
  • Google Translate:   translate.google.com/ -  Translates from one language to another almost instantaneously, with dozens of languages available to choose from
  • The Onion News:  www.theonion.com/ - Sick of the real news?  Take a break fromt reality with this version of the news...

Be sure to check our resources section for additional information

Employment Supports


Although the Western Mass RLC does not specifically offer job searching and training supports, we do partner with people as possible to look for resources, explore and try out new ideas, and develop related skills.  Sometimes these activities occur through more formal groups and workshops, and other times they happen through individual peer-to-peer support and connections made in community.

lead_deirdreIn some instances, the RLC community has played a role in supporting people who have been succesful in developing their own small businesses, recording original music, and creating and displaying artwork.  Many have also moved on to a variety of competitive employment positions based, in part, on skills learned and supports received through the RLC.

The fundamental values underlying all our work in this area includes:

  • Self-determination
  • Increasing access to opportunity
  • The importance of valued roles in healing and in life
  • The individual as the expert on themselves
  • Building bridges to community

Ultimately, we believe that each person's inspiration, creativity, passion, goals and interests can guide them to the roles that will have the most meaning and impact in their lives, and that employment supports needn't be limited to only those options that seem obvious in the moment.







Our funds for Career Initiative Grants are very limited.Want to donate to increase our ability to give more/larger grants? Click the link below!





Career Initiatives



Career Initatives Grant Applications are NOW available for the 2015-2016 cycle!!!!

Click HERE for the full application in PDF format or HERE if you'd prefer it in Word.

If you are a past grantee who is applying to continue your project, you can also click HERE for the re-application form.


Career Initiatives provides opportunities for people who have personal experience with psychiatric diagnosis, extreme emotional distress, and /or trauma to start their own small businesses, self initiatied projects, or pursue self-employment. Career Initiatives offers individuals the opportunity to apply for seed money to support their endeavors.


Examples of successful Career Initiatives that are now self-sustained include:

An art gallery that provides opportunities to those with psychiatric diagnoses
Tutor Service Dogs
A business that trains service animals in Greenfield.
Eliot Cardinaux, classical/jazz pianist and poet, utilized much of his funds from his Career Initiatives grant to record a new album. His most recent work combines both his poetry and his piano playing within a quartet setting. The results are a wonderful experiment in improvisation and exploration.
Check back soon to hear the finished work and follow Eliot's musical paths!
Until then check out some goodies from Eliot below.
Or check out Eliot performing "Reflections for a Princess" at the Anchor House of Artists:



Career Explorations

Career Explorations offers opportunities for young people between the ages of 16 and their mid-twenties to explore career possibilities that link personal aspirations to real world job experiences.
In the summer of 2014, Career Explorations focused on connecting young people with real world experience in building websites. The RLC's Greenfield space was home to the Tech Scouts program and mentored by Bram Moreinis. Tech scouts brings teens and young adults together for IT service learning. The Scouts came together as high functioning teams and finished all three major projects they took on successfully: providing website design, development and support for The Recover Project, Girls Club of Greenfield and FH Youth to Work.


Tech Scouts Group Photo

Career Explorations will create opportunities for you to:

  • Work independently and as a team
  • Learn new skills to reach goals
  • Gain hands-on experience
  • Practice interviewing techniques
  • Establish references
  • Create a resume
  • Network
For more information, contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Check out this short film about Tech Scouts!


And here are before and after shots of a Tech Scout project:


 TECH SCOUTS Girls Club of Greenfield BEFORE shot
TECH SCOUTS Girls Club of Greenfield AFTER shot



Women's Idea Factory

Page in progress




For More Information, Contact LEAD Director, Danielle Niedzwiecki
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(413) 536-2401 ext. 3011


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  • The Murphy Bills and Beyond

    In June of 2015, Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania re-introduced the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act" (HR 2646), better known as the Murphy Bill.  A month later, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut introduced a very similar bill in the Senate called the "Mental Health Reform Act of 2015" (S2680).  Both pieces of legislation threatened to dramatically increase the use of force and dismantle many of the more progressive and healing alternatives that have been developed in recent years. As of November 2016 the fate of both bills remained uncertain.

    Meanwhile, another piece of legislation called 21st Century Cures was in development and garnering increasing bipartisan support. A sweeping and expansive healthcare bill, 21st Century Cures was, initially, minimally focused on mental health provisions. Having been stalled in part due to resistance from Senate Democrats' concerns that the bill was dangerously empowering for the pharmaceutical industry, 21st Century Cures also faced an uncertain fate in November. However, the election of President Trump and consequent fears for the bill’s fate prompted a reworking of the bill that also included the absorption of many aspects of HR 2646, “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis.”

    21st Century Cures was passed by the House and Senate on November 30th and December 7th of last year, respectively. On December 13, 21st Century Cures (now including substantial portions drawn directly from HR 2646, "Helping Familties in Mental Health Crisis") was signed into law by President Obama. 



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