Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Welcome to the Western Mass Recovery 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





WM Peer Network



The Western Mass Peer Network  (WMPN) is made up of people working in peer roles throughout the Western Massachusetts region.  Although the Western Mass RLC provides technical support and facilitation to the Western Mass Peer Network, the Network itself is made up of and led by people connected to a variety of organizations.  WMPN is dedicated to:


  • Supporting and offering a sounding board to fellow people working in peer roles throughout Western Mass (and, at times, beyond!)


  • Acting as a leading voice and influence in the development and integration of peer roles throughout our region (Click here for a sampling of past projects)


  • Supporting Providers to understand and successfully implement meaningful peer roles via consultation and training



Interested in becoming a part of WMPN?
WMPN is currently holding meetings on a quarterly basis.  The next meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 20th, 2014 from 11:30am to 2:30pm @ the Western Mass RLC's Holyoke Center, 187 High Street, Suite 303.
Pizza and salad are generally served for lunch. 
A typical meeting includes:
  • Announcements and introductions
  • Open time for anyone to talk about something they're struggling with in their job (just to be heard or for feedback)
  • Whatever else people in the network want to bring to the table!
WMPN also produces a quarterly newsletter.  Read the first issue HERE
Sign up for the newsletter by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
 The Western Mass Peer Network has also developed and supported several projects related to peer-to-peer roles.
A Sampling of Past Projects:
The WMPN has worked on a number of projects and put together multiple events to support their mission.  These have included:
  • A WMPN luncheon that brought together people working in provider and peer roles, with a fcous toward discussing the myths and misconceptions of the peer role (view the Powerpoint from that luncheon here)
  • A WMPN meet and greet that provided providers an opportunity to meet a variety of people working in peer roles (speed dating style!) and learn about how different organizations are making their way through implementation and integration
  • A 'Declaration of Peer Roles' detailing the framework, values and actions related to peer-to-peer work (download a copy here)
  • A 'Celebration of Peer Roles' event that sought to recognize the great work of many people working in both peer and provider roles (see the program here)
Contact the WMPN by e-mail or phone at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or (413) 539-5941 ext. 325


Reading List


While you may already find some useful information here, this page is under construction and will be growing substantially in the coming months!


While not exhaustive, this list contains reading on a variety of topics that you might find useful, informative or interesting.  If you have something you would like to recommend be added to this list, please e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the details.


Poetry and Creative Writing


Writing on Trauma-Related Topics


Writing on Psychiatric Medication


Documentaries and Educational Films

  • Between the Lines - A film exploring the varying meanings and reasons for self-injury
  • Beyond the Medical Model - A film by the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community about creating space for a variety of understandings and interpretations of human experience and emotional distress
  • A Brilliant Madness - A documentary about John Nash on whom the fictionalized film, A Beautiful Mind, was based
  • Coming off of Psych Drugs - A film exploring the challenges, successes and overall process of withdrawing from psychiatric drugs
  • Crooked Beauty - A film exploring what it is like to be 'crazy in a crazy world,' focusing on the story of Jacks McNamara, co-founder of the Icarus Project
  • Dialogues with Madwomen - A film featuring seven women who speak to their experience with psychiatric diagnosis
  • The Doctor Who Heard Voices - A dramatized film about the true story of a junior doctor who hears voices telling her to kill herself
  • Generation RX - A film that explores the use psychiactric medications in children
  • Healing Homes - A film about the Family Care Foundation in Sweden, and their alternative approach to supporting human healing
  • Healing Voices -  A film about the stories of people who have experienced psychiatric labelling, trauma, etc. as they relate to stigma, discrimination, healing and more
  • Hurry Tomorrow - A film made in a psychiatric ward of a Los Angelese hospital, exposing the abuses and mistreatment of those hospitalized there
  • Important Souls - A film about the role of trauma in the lives of people who have been psychiatrically labelled
  • Kings Park - A film about Kings Park State Hospital as told from the perspective of people who were once hospitalized there
  • Little Brother Big Pharma - Looking at the impact of the current pharmaceutical industry on those receiving treatment in the mental health system
  • Mental Notes - A film that explores the history of the psychiatric system in New Zealand
  • Numb Documentary - A film documenting the results when one person decides to track their process of withdrawing from antidepressants
  • OC87 - A film about Bud Clayman and his experience with psychitric diagnosis and recovery
  • Open Dialogue - A film exploring the Open Dialogue approach developed in the Northern Laplands of Finland
  • People Say I'm Crazy - A film about John Cadigan who shares his experiences being diagnosed with Schizophrenia and moving beyond his emotiondal distress
  • Take These Broken Wings -A film focusing on the healing journey of Catherine Penney and Joanne Greenberg who both recovery from Schizophrenia diagnoses without the use of medication
  • There's a Fault in Reality -  A film exploring the experience of 'Schizophrenia' through the stories of three individuals
  • Titicut Follies - A film exploring the conditions that existed in the state prison for the criminally insane in Bridgerwater, Massachusetts
  • Wait! I'm Still Here - A film exploring the epidemic of psychiatric diagnosis in the United States
  • What Happened to You - A film about the impact of trauma on our lives
  • Voices Matter - A film produced primarily from footage and interviews at the 2012 Hearing Voices Congress in Wales that celebrates the progress of the Hearing Voices Movement


Writing on Hearing Voices


Thank you!



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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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