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
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 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.
The University of Massachusetts will be holding a series of free talks throughout October, featuring a wide variety of speakers and presenters.
Other talks will include:
U.S. Neoslavery: A History of the Prison Industrial Present
Chained in Silence: A History of Black Women and Convict Labor
Resisting Police Violence in Springfield and Beyond:
Mothers, Scholars,and Queer People of Color Speak Out
A Conversation with Dr. Rhonda Y. Williams
For more information on these talks (including dates, times, and additional topic details), please click the "read more" below.
The RLC community is made up of people who’ve experienced psychiatric diagnosis, extreme states, trauma, and a variety of other life-interrupting challenges. Unquestionably, systemic oppression leads to trauma, and interruptions in one’s ability to lead a full life. In other words, racism is trauma, and as our mission statement says, “recognizing and undoing systemic injustices such as racism, sexism, transphobia and psychiatric oppression” is essential to our work.
Arthur Chu: “What is the impulse behind changing #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter? Do you crash a strangers funeral shouting I TOO HAVE FELT LOSS?”
GeekAesthete (Reddit User): “Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say “I should get my fair share.” And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, “everyone should get their fair share.”
For more on this topic see: "What you Mean by #AllLivesMatter" by Arielle Newton.
- The importance of pronouns and accessibility for queer folk
- The power of conversations based in the language of human experience versus conversations confined to clinical language; and
- How we might honor each person's freedom to interpret experiences in any way while holding a healing space that does not tolerate hate speech on the lines of race, gender, sexuality and other experiences.
The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) has issued revisions to several of its regulations, most notably the regulations related to the complaint procedure and review.
DMH is currently inviting feedback on these changes until September 16.
You can read the notice and find links to all the changes HERE.
However, the most important section (focused on investigation and reporting responsibilities for the complaint process) can be found HERE.
There are many changes that have raised concern with the Disability Law Center and others around the state. Of particular note, the new regulations offer much more room to dismiss complaints including (but not limited to) the following reasons (page 5):
1. Concerns an allegation that is not perceived to be "dangerous, illegal, or inhumane"
2. Makes allegations that are objectively impossible
3. Repeats allegation of facts that have previously been investigated
Unfortunately, while these may seem logical exclusions on the surface, they leave a great deal of room for interpretation. Could 'objectively impossible' be as simple as saying someone attacked you on a day they weren't working because you got the days mixed up? Could 'repeats allegation' be used to dismiss the same complaint, even if its a new or repeated incident? What sorts of complaints may be deemed not "dangerous, illegal, or inhumane?"
It is critical to note that the DMH Complaint process as it currently exists is already seen as insufficient by many people who currently or have received services. People often share about not feeling heard, feeling that their complaints have been minimized or dismissed, or that accountability even for complaints that are validated is limited. Perhaps even more importantly, many (if not most) complaints don't ever get filed because people fear the consequences of speaking up in that way.
For these reasons, any weakening of the complaint process should be seen as unacceptable. We hope that you will take the time to speak up!
Facilitated by: Earl Miller
This event is intended to create space for people in the local community to come together and talk about the realities of all the traumatic events and violence playing out around us and constantly flooding the news.
We will have the opportunity to share how we have been impacted, network and talk about what our support and advocacy efforts might look like moving forward.
This dialogue is specifically for people of color.
Community Dialogue: Healing Racism
Tuesday, September 13, 6pm to 8pm
@ the Holyoke Library,
250 Chestnut Street, Holyoke
Facilitated by: Louis Mitchell & Michaelann Bewsee
This event is intended to create space for people in the local community to come together in recognition of ongoing violence against black people in our nation, and to talk about our own roles in healing racism.
We will have the opportunity to explore systemic racism, white privilege, and other issues requiring personal examination in order to make change and not be complicit with the harms being done (though we know, going in, that time will run short and this dialogue will need to be just one of many).
This dialogue is just one step of many.