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End-of-Year Giving Campaign reminder!


The days are counting down to the New Year, which means time is running out to support the Western Mass RLC's End-of-Year giving campaign!

What does this mean? Many people choose the end of the year to make gifts to non-profits that they feel are making a difference. This year, we hope that you will choose the Western Mass RLC for your gift, and/or help us get the word out about our end-of-year giving campaign to others via social media!

How are end-of-year gifts used? End-of-year gifts often help us get through the coldest months of the year with food in all our spaces, and emergency homelessness supplies. They also help us keep our centers up and running, and support us to continue to offer events and groups through the second half of the year.

How and when can gifts be given? There are many ways to give, including the following:

▪ End-of-year fundraising page— Our end-of-year fundraising page will be accepting on-line donations now through New Years Eve. You can find it HERE
▪ Donations by check— We welcome donations by check. They should be made payable to our umbrella organization (The Consortium), with a notation that the funds are for the RLC. They can be mailed to 187 High Street, Suite 202, Holyoke, MA, 01040.
▪ Purchase an item from our wish list— Each of our spaces has put together a wish list on are our lists!
▪ Make a donation of use clothes or other items— We welcome donations of used clothing (all sizes), as well as food donations, and other items in person to our spaces. E-mail us at or call one of our spaces if you want to check in about making a donation of this kind!
End-of-year fundraising page— Our end-of-year fundraising page will be accepting on-line donations now through New Years Eve. You can find it HERE
Donations by check— We welcome donations by check. They should be made payable to our umbrella organization (The Consortium), with a notation that the funds are for the RLC. They can be mailed to 187 High Street, Suite 202, Holyoke, MA, 01040.
Purchase an item from our wish list— Each of our spaces has put together a wish list on are our lists!
Make a donation of use clothes or other items— We welcome donations of used clothing (all sizes), as well as food donations, and other items in person to our spaces. E-mail us at or call one of our spaces if you want to check in about making a donation of this kind!

Whether you are someone who is able to make an end-of-year gift, help share our campaign on-line, or support our communities in person with your time, we value and thank you for your support!

Find our fundraising page HERE!


Intentional Peer Support Training

The Western Mass RLC has a limited number of spots available in the next Intentional Peer Support 5-day Core training scheduled for Monday, January 21 through Friday, January 25 in Framingham, Massachusetts.

To request a spot, please click HERE!

Please note: Requesting a spot does not guarantee you a spot. Space is very limited. We will notify you as soon as possible of space availability!


Introduction to Sound Healing


With Kelvin Young

Thursday, January 3rd, 12pm to 1pm
@ the RLC’s Bowen Center, 235 Chestnut Street, Springfield

What is Sound Healing?: This practice employs the vibrations of the human voice as well as objects that resonate -- tuning forks, gongs, Tibetan singing bowls -- to go beyond relaxation and stimulate healing.

Who is Kelvin Young: Kelvin is a Sound Practitioner and a person in long-term recovery which means he hasn’t consumed alcohol or any other drug to cope with emotional distress since March 6th, 2009. The first time he was exposed to sound healing, Kelvin discovered the sounds of the crystal and Tibetan singing bowls and gongs calmed his mind, relaxed his body and nourished his soul. He went on to study sound healing with Master Sound Healers, Paul Hubbert of the Holographic Sound and Inner Balance and Satya Brat Jaiswal of the International Academy of Sound Healing. Kelvin was also was presented with the 2017 Dr. F. Marcus Brown Memorial Integrative Medicine Award for exceptional commitment to incorporating integrative medicine within CT Valley Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital, and was featured in a powerful documentary on trauma, addiction and recovery called Recovering Community. In addition to his sound healing work, he serves on the board of directors at Manchester, CT HOPE Initiative and Eat The Sunlight Health Inc, and is an active member of the CT Holistic Chamber of Commerce and ACLU Smart Justice Initiative.

Today, he continues to share his story of finding freedom from alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin and prescription drugs and facilitates private and group sound healing sessions for holistic stress relief at yoga studios, wellness centers, ecstatic dances, festivals, retreat centers, businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, schools and addiction treatment centers throughout the United States.


Trauma Informed Strategies for Working with Voices-Workshop

With Caroline Mazel-Carlton and Marty Hadge

trauma-informed strategies



On-Line Psych Drug Support Group


The new on-line group on psychiatric drugs is starting in the New Year!

This group is intended for anyone in any stage of thinking about or making changes/reducing/coming off of psychiatric drugs. Facilitators are people who are or have been on psychiatric drugs themselves.

This group is not intended to tell people how or if they should come off or making changes to their psychiatric drugs. Rather, it is meant as a space to offer mutual support, and share resources, learning, and relevant information with one another.

The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 8th at 7pm using the Zoom platform. The Zoom platform will allow for people to log in on a computer or call in by phone.

Please e-mail Zoe with any questions or to get the login/call in details at!


Mad in America Survey Results: Ex-patients tell of force, trauma, and sexual abuse in America’s mental hospitals


On December 9th, Michael Simonson released the results of a survey looking at first hand experiences of individuals who have spent time on psychiatric units. Although Michael recognizes some imperfections with the study (such as respondents were self-selected via outreach on Mad in America, Reddit, etc.), the results are nonetheless telling and consistent with reports from the Department of Justice, Buzzfeed, and the United Nations.

Some of the most notable finding reported by the study include:
•More than half of the respondents described their psychiatric ward experience as “traumatic.”
•Thirty-seven percent said they were physically abused in some way (with forced treatment included as an example of physical abuse).
•Seven percent said they were sexually abused.
•Only 27% said they felt “safe and secure” while on the psych ward.
•Only 17% said they were “satisfied with the quality of the psychiatric treatment” they received.

To view the full report, visit HERE


What’s in a Name?: The RLC Continues to Move Toward a New Name

Thank you to everyone who has given the RLC feedback thus far on changing its name! or taking this survey to help us review some of our new name options, and support us to make a decision by the end of 2018! This survey represents yet another update and effort to meet our January, 2019 due date for identifying a new name!

A recap on just a few of the reasons why we are wanting to change our name: Many people are confused by 'recovery' in our name, and think we must be focused primarily on problems with substance use. Many of us have very mixed feelings about the word 'recovery', including the idea that there is anything we necessarily want to 'recover'. People frequently mix up 'community' and 'center' and end up calling us the 'Recovery Learning Center'. Through the survey, as well as conversations with the team and beyond, we've discovered that the majority of us believe we SHOULD change our name.

To check out the latest ideas for a new name, or to offer any new ideas yourself, visit our latest re-naming SURVEY HERE!


TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES: Maastricht Interview for Hearing Voices & Unusual Beliefs

Peter Bullimore and Shaun Hunt will be returning to us from England to offer another round of Maastricht Interview trainings. The first three-day training will focus on hearing voices. The second will focus on unusual beliefs and what often gets called ‘paranoia’.

Maastricht Interview for Hearing Voices

Wednesday, April 17 to Friday, April 19
@ Clarion, West Springfield

Maastricht Interview for Unusual Beliefs

Monday, April 22 to Wednesday, April 24
@ Clarion, West Springfield

The Maastricht Interview is a semi-structure questionnaire that can be used to support people who hear voices, and has also been adapted for individuals with unusual beliefs. The original format was developed by Sandra Escher, Marius Romme, and voice hearer, Patsy Hage as a way to explore the experience of voice hearing in depth and provide the tools needed to build trust, openness and understanding. It can assist people in a number of ways including:

•Validating the experiences and overcoming shame
•Offering space and support to systemically map out all aspects of the experience and build insight
•Empower the individual by promoting acceptance and the opportunity to take charge

Individuals who participate in either training will:

•Learn how to conduct the interview
•Undertake 2 interviews with people who have first-hand experience with voice hearing and unusual beliefs
•Write reports and develop constructs
•Develop shared understanding of voices and/or unusual beliefs and ways to support people

This training is particularly intended for people working in clinical or conventional provider environments, but peer supporters, family members, and friends have also taken the training and found it helpful, too. There is also a brand new on-line forum specifically to support continued learning and practice for individuals across the world who have taken the Maastricht training.

Each 3-day session costs $150. Reduced fees or scholarships are available upon request.

CLICK HERE For more information or to register for the Maastricht Interview training for Hearing Voices

CLICK HERE For more information or to register for the Maastricht Interview training for Unusual Beliefs


Hearing Voices & Unusual Beliefs in Florida!

HV flyer peter shaun 2

The Western Mass RLC has also been working with folks down South to help this information be more broadly available. We are pleased to report that you can also find Peter and Shaun offering one-day workshops on Voices and Unusual Beliefs in Florida on Monday April 29th and Tuesday, April 30th.

Visit HERE for a flyer and additional details


A Study on ‘Antipsychotic’ Drugs and Withdrawal

•Have you taken the class of drugs typically called “antipsychotics”? (Examples include Zyprexa, Seroquel, Ability, Risperdal, Haldol, Geodon, and Stelazine.)

•Have you ever stopped taking or tried to stop taking them? (Includes both people who have stopped taking the drugs, and those who tried, but are still taking them)

•Are you currently 18 years or older?

If yes, you are invited to take part in a study sponsored by Maastricht University School for Mental Health and Neuroscience in the Netherlands. Co-sponsors include the International Institute for Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.

If you would like to take part, please complete this SURVEY

The survey is anonymous, and you won't be asked any identifying information. The survey aims to improve mental health services by better understanding drug withdrawal. The lead researcher is Will Hall, a therapist, PhD student, and former patient who has himself taken drugs commonly referred to as ‘antipsychotics’. Input into the survey was received from individuals around the world who have taken this class of drugs.

If you have questions about this study or the survey itself, please contact Will at or 413.210.2803.


Alternatives to Suicide is Coming to Westfield!

alt2su pic

We are excited to report that we have recently been able to secure funding to start an Alternatives to Suicide group in Westfield, MA!

Alternatives to Suicide groups were one of the first groups in the United States created by and for individuals struggling with suicidal attempts and/or thoughts. They are intended as non-judgmental spaces where people can share some of their darkest thoughts without being assumed to have an illness or being assessed for involuntary interventions. We have learned over time that support to openly explore these thoughts - and the feelings and experiences underneath them – is so often the key to moving toward something different.

We anticipate that the Westfield group will start early in 2019, so stay tuned for dates, times, and place!

Current Alternatives to Suicide groups sponsored by the Western Mass RLC take place in Northampton (Mondays), Turners Falls (Mondays), Greenfield (Tuesdays), Pittsfield (Wednesdays), Somerville (Thursdays), and Springfield (Fridays). We anticipate re-starting the Amherst group soon, too. Check out our calendar for additional time and location details.


Kickboxing with Estelle


Tuesdays, 12:30pm to 1:45pm

@ the Brick House, 24 3rd Street, Turners Falls

Trauma-sensitive kickboxing instruction for all bodies and abilities. Estelle focuses on creating a safe, supportive environment where participants go at their own pace. The aim is toward building resilience and a sense of personal power.

Free and open to the public. Equipment provided. Contact Estelle for more information: 413-552-9119


O Magazine Looks at Peer Support & Suicide

On December 11th, O Magazine (the Oprah magazine) published an article called “How Talking About Suicide Can Give People Something to Live for”.

The article focuses primarily on peer-to-peer supports and groups run by and for individuals who have considered or attempted suicide. We are proud to share that the Western Mass RLC’s Director of Training, Caroline Mazel-Carlton, was interviewed for and included in the article. This is based on the fact that the RLC is responsible for creating one of the first ever models for peer-to-peer support groups related to suicide, called ‘Alternatives to Suicide’. These groups have been offered by the Western Mass RLC since 2008. The RLC has also developed an adapted ‘Alternatives to Suicide’ approach for clinicians, family, and others, as well.

Unfortunately, the article takes some of what Caroline has to say out of context, indicating that perhaps people in the group don’t actually go as deep as to talk about killing themselves. However, in reality, what Caroline was saying is that—when given the space to talk about what is truly driving people to consider leaving this planet– there are often many other things underlying that drive that they want and need to talk about, and the groups serve as a space in which they can do that.

In spite of any thing the article got wrong, it seems important that more and more mainstream media outlets are recognizing the importance of peer support in supporting people through some of their darkest times!

Read the article HERE


Supporting Providers: Report Back

In the fall, we released a survey directed at providers and their need for support and networking opportunities. Specifically, we sought to explore how providers are feeling they are supported when they themselves are struggling, as well as when they are looking to push back on problematic practices and/or find more creative approaches. This exploration was spurred by a number of things, including the growing number of providers reaching out to the RLC for support, and recent changes in local services. Perhaps more than anything, though, it was spurred by our realization that we’re only aware of two people dying by suicide who’ve attended our Alternatives to Suicide groups, and they’ve both been providers working in clinical roles.

We have now reviewed the results and comprised a ‘report back’ meant as the next step toward exploring the results of that survey, and thinking about next steps.

Click here to read the full report!


In the News...


Mental Health Clinic Opens Inside a Walmart in Texas

by Stephanie Giambruno and A. Pawlowski.
On November 29, Today published a story about the first mental health clinic in a Walmart. Beacon Health Options is a Boston-based behavioral health services company, and they are also the company running the clinic. They have indicated that the location was chosen for its convenience in a state that reportedly has a substantial shortage on mental health services. Of course, one has to wonder the quality of those services, and the message that gets sent in a society that already has failed so many people by rushing and dehumanizing the ‘help’ it attempts to provide.

Read more here


The Best Way to Save People from Suicide

by Jason Cherkis.
On November 15, the Huffington Post published a new article on the topic of suicide. The article is lengthy and includes multiple stories, but ultimately boils down into this: Maybe we’re missing the point with our current approach of assessment and boxing people off into treatment. Maybe what people want most is a connection to another human being. Perhaps most interestingly, the article reviewed research led by Jerome Motto who conducted an experiment that involved following individuals discharged from a San Francisco hospital following a suicide attempt. The experiment involved simply sending notes, even if the people receiving the notes didn’t respond. These notes were simple and primarily just served to invite people into connection. The end results indicated that people who did not receive these notes were nearly twice as likely to kill themselves as those who did.

Read more here


Association of Trauma Type, Age of Exposure, and Frequency in Childhood with Psychotic Experiences in Early Adulthood

by Jazz Croft et al.
On November 21, the JAMA Network released an article that examines the experience of trauma and was so often gets called ‘psychosis’. In other words, they examined the hypothesis that trauma can lead to extreme states and experiences that lead to psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. One of the most interesting statements from the article includes the following:

“This study indicates that assuming the association is accurate and causal, a substantial proportion (25% to 60%, consistent with previous estimates) of participants would not have developed psychotic experiences if they had not been exposed to traumatic experiences during childhood.”

When these figures are considered alongside the many cultural differences that get ignored, and the influence of a variety of other environmental factors, one has to wonder how we came to live in a society that blames the brain and medical disease above all else.

Read more here


Job Posting from the Transformation Center: Executive Director Search

From the job posting: The Transformation Center welcomes mission-driven applicants with the organizational leadership experience and collaborative skills needed to build a new chapter upon the deep foundation of our community and history.

The executive director is the organizations primary representative to the broader community: brokering partnerships with government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations and advocating for its vision at the local, regional, and national levels. The new executive director will build on the Transformation Center’s organizational strength and reputation as a flexible, innovative and data-driven partner to develop the peer support workforce, support the expansion of peer-operated program models, and create new opportunities for our constituency to develop resilience using and contributing to value to health systems and communities. The new executive director will bring strong management skills and a passion for trauma informed communities, access and inclusion.

For additional details and to apply CLICK HERE

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