Friday, 14 August 2020

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, problems with substances, 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, ableism, transphobia, transmisogyny, 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





DMH Info

The 'Requestion for Information' (RFI) document from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health relating to the future design of what are now called Community Based Flexible Supports (CBFS) is available here:


Your response must be submitted This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) no later than noon on June 2nd.

Please be reminded that you do NOT need to answer all questions. Below are some suggested talking points, if you are interested in responding to the question about peer roles.

Historically, DMH has not offered any guidelines clear guidelines as to the formation or operation of peer roles in any state-funded contract. This is a key opportunity to ask them to offer a much clearer framework and requirements that will protect the integrity of these roles which—at present– are often left unsupported or misused. Here are some talking points that we encourage you to consider for inclusion in your feedback. As a part of bidding on and describing implementation of the new model contracts, all providers should be required to explain:

  • How they will adhere to the Massachusetts Certified Peer Specialist (CPS) Code of Ethics in implementation and ongoing support of all peer roles
  • How they will provide direct supervisors that have (ideally) trained and worked in peer roles themselves and/or (minimally) have gone through an approved supervision training specific to supervising peer roles.
  • How they will protect the integrity of the peer role by avoiding assignment of tasks that would violate the CPS Code of Ethics or integrity of the peer role or otherwise substantially shift its focus including any involvement in the Medication Administration Program, acting as a rep-payee or any other form of controlling someone’s money, or writing routine, person-specific notes.
  • How they will support all peer employees to continue their education (a requirement of the CPS code of ethics) through trainings that are specific to peer support, including a requirement that they support ongoing access to trainings outside of the organization itself (given no traditional provider is adequately equipped to provide ongoing peer-specific training).
  • How they will build a peer support team (which may include assignment to particular parts of the organization, but ultimately retains primary team membership with the peer team itself) within the organization.
  • How they will support (paid) networking opportunities for their peer employees with people working in peer roles in
  • How, in small organizations with less than 5 FTEs dedicated to peer roles, they’ll put in place additional supports, connections, and/or affiliations (e.g., with RLC, etc.) to help prevent isolation from peer support colleagues.
  • How their peer support job descriptions are clearly differentiated from other organizational roles and consistent with the previous points in this document (with sample job descriptions required to be submitted with the bid)
  • How the ratio of peer support FTEs to number of individuals receiving services will be determined, and explain why that is sufficient.
  • How they will develop a retention plan specific to peer supporters that includes the above points, as well as pay rates that recognize their expertise (should not be seen as the same as or lower than entry level direct support roles), and training plans to get the organization up-to-speed on understanding peer roles (so that it is less of a hostile work environment for those individuals working in those roles).

Remember: Opportunities to shift how DMH is defining and asking providers to implement peer roles does not come around often. Don’t let this chance to get heard pass you by!!!

More information that may be relevant to your feedback on peer roles can be found here:

Declaration of Peer Roles

Handbook on Peer Roles


  • Info
    Article Count:
  • 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. 



    recent posts

    Article Count:



Registration & Login for Website Users