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





Who is Tim Murphy?

Full Name:  Timothy F. Murphy220px 113th Congress Official Photo of Rep. Tim Murphy

Born:  September 11, 1952

Residency:  Born in Ohio, Lives in Pennsylvania

Current Position:  US Representative, Pennsylvania’s 18th District (since 2003)

Party Affiliation:  Republican

Background:  Murphy holds a PhD in psychology, Has worked as an assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and has co-authored several books (e.g., ’The Angry Child’).  

Why People are Listening To Him: 

  • Because he is seen as a ‘mental health professional’
  • Because people respond to those in power (and he’s been a politician for over a decade)
  • Because people get scared and want someone to have the answers

Why People Might Want to Think Twice About Listening To Him: 

141019 tim murphy ap 605

  • In 2010, Murphy was named among the 22 most corrupt members of Congress by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. (www.crewsmostcorrupt.org
  • According to www.opensecrets.org, Healthcare and Pharmaceutical employees are two of Murphy’s top three campaign funders
  • Murphy has also regularly practiced opportunistic tactics that capitalize on the fear of US citizens, appearing on television to promote his agenda each and every time there is a tragedy in the country (see image to the left where Murphy takes a similar tactic, comparing Ebola to "dealing with terrorism")
  • He has openly attacked and mocked activities in the peer-to-peer community and consistently ignores evidence that does not support his personal agenda


For more about Tim Murphy, see his Wikipedia entry here.


Murphy Bill Overview

On Thursday, June 4, 2015 the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was re-introduced by Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. It is also known as H.R. 2646 or, perhaps most commonly, as the ‘Murphy Bill.’ Although it is claimed that the second version of this Bill contains several compromises, it seems just as bad as the first.
In fact, it may actually be worse, and here’s why:
The second version of this bill uses toned down language and seems like it’s let go of some of it’s original (and more controversial) priorities. However, most of the ‘toning down’ seems superficial in nature, and so what this actually means is that the Bill is all the more likely to get passed while still essentially allowing for the same setbacks, invasiveness and rights violations to those receiving (or targeted as needing) services in the mental health system.
Ultimately, as with the first time this bill was introduced (2013), it suggests many changes to existing laws and programs that pose a serious risk to our work and movement.
Some of the most notable points include:
  • Increased Forced ‘Treatment’
  • It Guts the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • It Severely Limits How Advocates Can Support People Whose Rights are Being Violated
  • It Loosens Restrictions on HIPAA
  • Murphy Pretends to Support Peer-to-Peer Support as a Method to Control and Limit It


  • Increased Forced ‘Treatment’: The Murphy Bill seeks to loosen restrictions on when force can be used and ties certain types of federal funding to state implementation of Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) laws (also known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment or ‘AOT’). Although the Bill no longer requires a block on federal funds to a state that does not employ IOC, it still incentivizes it by giving more to states that do. IOC is a particular form of forced ‘treatment’ that allows for forced medication and a number of other requirements and limitations regarding how someone lives their life, sometimes for reasons as simple as the system feeling that that person has been hospitalized too frequently. (For more on IOC, see this article: www.westernmassrlc.org/rlc-articles/214-outpatient-commitment-laws-a-massachusetts)
  • It Guts the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):SAMHSA has and continues to provide funding that many feel is important and highly impactful both for people who   struggle with addictions and substance abuse and those who struggle with emotional or mental distress, trauma and psychiatric diagnosis. For example, they provided the initial funding for Second Story Peer Respite in California. They are also responsible for funding peer-to-peer technical assistance centers like the National Empowerment Center in Massachusetts and Peerlink in Oregon, as well as for the funding that helped the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community develop the Handbook on Peer Roles (available here: www.psresources.info). Whatever complaints their may be about SAMHSA, gutting them and moving funds under the control of the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment would inevitably lead to the loss of many supports, particularly in the peer-to-peer realm.
  • It Severely Limits How Advocates Can Support People Whose Rights are Being Violated:In the first version of the bill, Murphy sought to gut the budget of the ‘Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness’ (PAIMI) programs (i.e., operating under the Disability Law Centers). This version shifts its tactic from budget reduction to placing limits directly on the authority of such advocates to act on complaints. In the end, the result is the same: Less support and advocacy to people whose rights are being violated.
  • It Loosens Restrictions on HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is what requires medical and mental health professionals to go to great lengths to keep your information private. In this second version of the Bill, Murphy has pretended that he is compromising by no longer okaying the release of psychotherapy notes. However, his new Bill still allows for the release of diagnosis, treatment plans, medication plans, and so on to family and caregivers even when against the person’s will.
  • Murphy Pretends to Support Peer-to-Peer Support as a Method to Control and Limit It: In the first version of the Murphy Bill, funding for peer roles was not supported. In what is being marked by some as a ‘concession’ by Rep. Murphy, the new bill encourages funding for peer support. However, the funding comes with a strict definition of what people in peer roles are able to do along with a requirement that they be supervised by mental health clinicians. Should this come to pass, it would devastate the concept of independent peer-run efforts and severely limit some of the most impactful peer supports currently available.

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg!

For more information:

Organizations For & Against


At this time, this section refers primarily to the House Murphy Bill (HR 2646) and NOT the statements for or against the Senate Murphy Bill (S. 1945).  Stay tuned for future updates regarding supporters and opposition to each of the bills.

Click on each organization's name to read their position statement.


Organizations taking a stand AGAINST the Murphy Bill:



Organizations coming out as PRO Murphy Bill and PRO force:




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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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