Tuesday, 22 September 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






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Peer Support Line


Feeling lonely, sad or in distress?


Are you looking for resource information? 


Just want to talk or be heard?



Have you ever tried contacting a peer support line? 


Introducing the Western Mass Peer Support Line:


By phone every day, 7pm to 11pm until end of August, 2020. As of September, the line will resume its former hours of 7 to 9pm, Monday through Thursday, and 7 to 10pm Friday through Sunday.

Call: 888.407.4515


Please note: For several months during the COVID pandemic, we have also offered a Text PSL. Unfortunately, that was a temporary support that was unfunded and added as an additional connection point during quarantine. We have had to conclude that support, though hope to be able to add it back in the future when we are able to fund it!




What is a a peer support line?

A peer support line (sometimes referred to as a ‘warmline’) is a phone line that you can call or text during a designated set of days and hours to:

  • Get support
  • Ask about resources
  • Connect with another person who can relate or has ‘been there’
  • Just talk


As opposed to a crisis line that is answered by a clinician and focuses on whether or not you may qualify for hospitalization or respite, a peer support line is answered by a trained peer supporter who has their own first-hand experience (with a psychiatric diagnosis, trauma, extreme or altered states, etc.) and who is there to talk and offer support.


Frequently asked questions about the Western Mass Peer Support Line




Warmlines & Peer Support Lines


In addition to the Western Mass Peer Support Line, there are several warmlines and peer support lines that are accessible to Massachusetts residents. Below, you will find information about the 8 lines we are aware of that accept calls from people living in Massachusetts and their hours of operation. All hours listed have been translated into Massachusetts time!  (Hours and days listed are according to our last check, and may have since changed.)  

PLEASE NOTE:  Although the Western Mass Peer Support Line does not use caller ID, at least some of the lines listed below (including the Boston Peer Warmline and Edingburgh Warmline in Quincy, MA) do. Dialing *67 before dialing the line's number may help block your number from their caller ID.


Edinburgh Warmline (Quincy, MA)*
Monday through Sunday, 5:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, 4pm-9pm
Stepping Stone Warmline (New Hampshire)
7 days per week, 5pm to 10pm
 Dialing *67 before dialing the line's number may help block your number from their caller ID.
Empowerment Center Warmline*
Monday through Friday, 8am to 8pm
Support in Spanish is available
Allegheney County Warmline (Pennsylvania)*
866.661.9276 (866.661.WARM)
7 days per week, 10am to midnight
Support in Spanish available on on-call basis
Indiana Consumer Warmline (Indiana)*
800.933.5397 (800.933.KEYS)
Monday through Friday, 8am to 4:30pm
Compassionate Ear Warmline
866.927.6327 (866.WARM.EAR)
7 days per week, 3pm to 9pm
David Rompery Warmline
866.927.6327 (866.WARM.EAR)
Hours: 7 days a week, 9am-11pm
Accepting calls only from Oregon area codes.
* Lines marked with an asterisk have stated that they
may call crisis services, or the police,
during the course of a call if they feel they should.

Dialing *67 before dialing the line's number may help block your number from their caller ID.

For information about additional warmlines and peer support lines in other states, visit www.warmline.org

Peer Support Line FAQ

Have a question about the Western Mass Peer Support Line?  Check below to see if it's answered, or e-mail us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



 What is the main purpose of the Peer Support Line?

The main purpose of the Peer Support Line is to provide a listening ear and an opportunity to connect and talk with someone else who also identifies as having experienced some real challenges and interruptions in their own lives. The idea behind the line is that there are ways to not be alone in your distress and to think about how to move forward.The line is also open to people looking to gather resource information.


Is there any evidence to suggest that Peer Support Lines and warmlines help?

Yes, warmlines like the David Romprey Warmline in Oregon have tracked qualitative data including whether or not the person calling feels the call was helpful, and their research suggests that over 80% of people calling their warmline do feel that the call was a positive experience. (Visit the data pages on their website for more details.)  Experience has also demonstrated that many people who are afraid to call a crisis line for fear of being forced into hospitalization or other treatment ARE willing to call a Peer Support Line or Warmline, thus providing an opportunity to work through something before it gets worse and the risk of undesired interventions become more likely. Other research has focused on the way that the existence of warmlines and peer support lines can be helpful to clinicians on crisis lines. For example, one research study found that the existence of these lines also creates space for clinicians on crisis lines to do their job more effectively by being able to focus on calls that are really about evaluation for hospitalization and other traditional services. (Visit the National Empowerment Center's website for more information.)  


Is the Peer Support Line anonymous?  

It is our intent to have the Peer Support Line be anonymous. We do not support caller ID, and will not ask you to disclose your real name or location if you do not wish to do so. (It's always helpful to have a first name for conversation, but it doesn't have to be your real name!) Of course, if you are calling from Massachusetts, it's always possible that you'll know the person answering the Peer Support Line from other places. If that happens, the Peer Support Line worker can offer you information for other lines. You can also call the number and select the option for a recording with information about other lines, or look here. Please note that not all Warmlines and Peer Support Lines in the country are fully anonymous, as some of them have caller ID. Dialing *67 before you dial their number may help block your number from their system.


Do you take calls from people outside of Massachusetts?

Yes.  Although our main focus in developing this line has been Western Mass, we accept calls from anyone throughout the country.


Why are your hours so limited?

The numbers of hours we offer is based on funding. There are some other peer support line or warmlines available in the country, and some of them will accept calls from anywhere in the US. You can find out more about other lines here. Please be aware that some lines do have a policy of calling crisis or 911 if someone is talking about suicide, so you may want to investigate a particular line's policies and practices before speaking openly.


Can I call the Peer Support Line if I'm feeling suicidal?

Yes. You can call the Peer Support Line with anything that may be going on for you, if you feel that talking with someone else and being heard may be helpful to where you're at. We will not try to trick you into disclosing personal information and will not pass you on to a crisis line, unless that is the support that you feel will be most helpful to you. Please note: Different peer support lines and warmlines have different policies and practices about this issue. This answer only is intended to apply to the Western Mass RLC.


What sort of training do the Peer Support Line workers have?

Western Mass Peer Support Line workers who were hired when we first opened had the benefit of going through a full week of Intentional Peer Support training, as well as a two-day supplemental training on the practicalities of working the Peer Support Line itself. People hired after that initial period are trained by existing workers using the same concepts and approach, and will also have access to future training refreshers as they are available.


How well do Peer Support Line Workers know area resources?

The knowledge of each Peer Support Line Worker varies based on their own lived experience, their training and their time spent helping others connect to available community offerings. However, each Peer Support Line worker has access to resource books and a computer so that they can partner with you to find resources that may meet your needs and wants.


Is the Peer Support Line a good place to call to access other RLC resources like the peer respite?

Not really. The Peer Support Line Workers will be able to offer you information about other RLC resources like the peer respite (Afiya), RLC centers and other offerings, just like they will be able to offer you information about other non-RLC-based resources. However, the person answering the phone will not be able to begin the process of coming into Afiya, sign you up for a training or take your RSVP to an event. In those instances, you'll need to call person or place connected to that activity or process.


Will the Peer Support Line ever be adding hours?

It is possible, we but we do not have any current prospects for additional funding. Please visit the Warmline website for ideas of other lines you might be able to call when our line is not open. (Please note: Some lines may have practices and policies that are very different than our own, including calling 911 or crisis when someone is talking about suicide. Please be sure you've looked into the practices and policies of the line you're calling before deciding what you want to share.)


Is the Peer Support Line accessible to people who speak other languages?

Unfortunately, we do not regularly have individuals who are able to take calls in languges other than English at this time. Visit the Warmline Website for ideas of lines that may have that capacity. (Please note: Some lines also have a policy to call 911 or crisis when suicide comes up. Please be sure to check the policies of the line you are calling before deciding what you want to share.)


How can I get involved in helping to expand the Peer Support Line?

One of the best ways to help us demonstrate the need for the Peer Support Line is to help spread the word so more people are calling and trying it out.


Why did you choose the name 'Western Mass Peer Support Line' instead of 'Western Mass Warmline'?

After much discussion, many members of the Western Mass Warmline Coalition and others in our community agreed that 'warmline' suggested something less serious or derivative of a 'hotline' or crisis line. In reality, people sometimes call warmlines in a great deal of distress and really important connections with a great deal of depth can be made. Calling a warmline as opposed to a crisis line is generally more about wanting a different type of suppoort and/or having a different goal for the outcome of the call, than about it being less serious or important of a call. Hence, we decided to use the term 'peer support line' rather than 'warmline' in an effort to avoid feeding into that.




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



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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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