Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/01/2025 - 01:00
Freedom Center is transforming! After 10+ years of community support, education, and human rights activism, Freedom Center is in a new phase!
As our community has grown and the movement become more successful, Freedom Center has changed. Our activities are more informal and small scale these days. We encourage people who want to network with Freedom Center to find folks face to face in the Northampton area community. Visit our Contact page for leads. And if you are looking to connect with peer and recovery resources in general, we encourage you to check out the Recovery Learning Community.
Everyone involved with us over the years is excited about the transformations in Western Massachusetts since we began. We were the first organization to bring peer-run services to the area; first to offer holistic wellness programs in mental health; first to bring coming off medications into open discussion; the first to go on the radio; first free yoga class, first to invite Robert Whitaker and many others, one of the first to organize against psychiatric abuse -- Freedom Center truly led the way in the Pioneer Valley and made a big impact nationally and even internationally.
Today state funding for peer run services is a reality in Massachusetts because of many years' pressure from many activists -- including pressure from the Freedom Center. There's a new awareness of our issues like never before, and while there is still is a great need for activism unhindered by government funding, the regional advances in peer run services are huge. Many of our efforts are now underway through the resources and funding of new organizations, and Freedom Center organizers have become involved with the new Recovery Learning Communities, the Afiya peer-run hospital alternative respite, and national organizing. Freedom Center co-founders Oryx Cohen and Will Hall no longer live in the area - Oryx was Recovery Learning Community co-Director and now works with the National Empowerment Center, and Will works as a trainer, consultant, and therapist, as well as continuing his radio and community development work. Lee Entel is now an acupuncturist in Colorado, Caty Simon is a sex worker activist, and other organizers from the early days of Freedom Center continue work to transform the mental health system.
This website is a wealth of information and links to further Western Massachusetts resources for human rights and mental health alternatives, as well as about Freedom Center's rich history of activism and mutual support. We encourage you to use this as a jumping off place to getting involved with the broader movement.
-- Will Hall
Submitted by shana on Sun, 09/21/2014 - 16:32
Submitted by shana on Wed, 09/03/2014 - 19:31
Connect with The Freedom Center on social media!
Submitted by admin on Sun, 08/11/2013 - 00:12
Icarus and Freedom Center co-sponsor a radio show hosted by Will Hall on all things madness-related, syndicated through the Pacifica community radio network and broadcast on WXOJ-LPFM in Northampton Massachusetts Weekly Tuesdays at 4 pm on Valley Free Radio WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM. as well as on KBOO in Oregon and other stations around the country.
Submitted by will on Fri, 10/19/2012 - 11:35
Local protest against mental health profiling Monday 1/21/12 in Northampton, MA
In the days since the Newtown school shooting, the media and politicians of all stripes have used those diagnosed with mental illness as a scapegoat. On the federal level, the White House has released a plan "to reduce gun violence" that includes $55 million in funding for teachers and schools, working with law enforcement, to "detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults"--i.e. to diagnose them with stigmatizing, and potentially criminalizing, mental illness labels, despite the fact that statistical research shows there is no significant link between mental illness and violence.
Submitted by admin on Wed, 09/12/2012 - 05:51
The HEALING VOICES KickStarter campaign is LIVE. Our goal is to raise $15,000 by Friday October 19th. KickStarter campaigns are all or nothing, so please spread the word and support this important project. The page includes a new promo for the film. Check out our rewards and get involved today! UPDATE: Campaign Successful!UPDATE - Madness Radio also succeeded in its recent Kickstarter campaign!
Submitted by jiro on Thu, 06/21/2012 - 04:02
The Freedom Center is experiencing paradoxical effects of our success! As peer run services spread in Western Massachusetts, organizers, resources, and support are now flowing to state funded agencies and initiatives across the area, especially the Recovery Learning Community. Area mental health providers are now embracing principles of peer-run services, peer support, and wellness alternatives. As a result of things shifting, organizers still focused on Freedom Center are seeking to obtain enough funding and volunteer support to keep Freedom Center resources active within the community. We welcome the volunteer support of local community members, as well as the financial support and wisdom of those who live outside the Pioneer Valley.
Submitted by admin on Sun, 06/12/2011 - 19:59
Freedom Center is going strong!
Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:31
Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:28
Submitted by admin on Thu, 02/24/2011 - 17:27
Submitted by admin on Wed, 01/05/2011 - 14:04
Submitted by admin on Tue, 12/21/2010 - 02:14
MEMORIAL-- Tuesday Dec 28 at 2 pm in Williamstown at the First Congregational Church, in the chapel downstairs
Watch the video Dave's sister Mecca made here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB_I0WwsYG8
Freedom Center celebrates our memories of Dave Burns, one of the original Freedom Center organizers. Dave's activism led to important reforms in the Northampton area mental health system, by exposing and denouncing abuses and pressing for improved treatment. He was a key organizer in local group homes and among mental health consumers in Northampton, who he met on the streets and in low income residences. Dave was also an important link to movement history, because he lived in RD Laing's therapeutic communities in London. He was a great guy and his spirit is very much alive in the work of the Freedom Center.
Will Hall writes, "Dave was a deeply creative and spiritual person who turned his own emotional and psychological struggles into a unique positive stance and attitude towards life. He was one of the founding organizers of Freedom Center and led the shaping of Freedom Center's first successful activist campaign. Dave was a very dear and beloved friend, very bright, very funny, and lived a way of seeing the world that was all his own. He will be deeply missed."
Listen to a great interview with Dave here: http://www.freedom-center.org/radio/10-06DavidBurns.mp3
Submitted by admin on Sat, 10/09/2010 - 21:20
Recovery Learning Community is sponsoring a "Starting Hearing Voices Groups" training with Oryx Cohen, Gail Hornstein, Ron Coleman (UK Hearing Voices Network) and Paul Baker (UK Hearing Voices Network). This is a great opportunity to learn about how to create a hearing voices group in your area and become a hearing voices group facilitator.
Dates for the training are November 12th & 19th and December 3rd & 10th. Download the training application here. For more info, contact
Recovery Learning Community
187 High St., Suite 303
Holyoke, MA 01040
Fax: 413-536-5466 (attn: Oryx)
Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/18/2010 - 01:54
Thank you Judi Chamberlin for all your inspiration, your years of friendship and support for Freedom Center, and the inspiration you have given the survivor movement.
Judi passed away. She recently wrote:
Submitted by lee on Wed, 06/24/2009 - 15:30
The Freedom Center's Monday night yoga class has been going on for about 8 years. We recently had to suspend classes because of our financial crisis and because our long-time yoga instructor Chaya Grossberg has moved on to the west coast.
The Somatics' Institute, the yoga space that we were paying rent on, has generously offered to give us the space for free! We have also recieved many donations that should allow us to keep up our programs at least through the summer (please donate more if you wuold like to see our programs go on longer than that!!)
We also found a new yoga instructor, Sally Morgan who is also a crainosacral therapist to take over the Monday night class. So join us mondays at 7pm. Hope to see you there!
Submitted by admin on Wed, 06/17/2009 - 13:19
A blog article by former Boston Globe health journalist and _Side Effects_ author Alison Bass profiles the Freedom Center & Caty Simon. Fairly accurate, and yay coverage, and yay Alison Bass.
Submitted by lee on Sun, 05/24/2009 - 16:39
You can donate tax-deductibly via cash or check by mailing a donation to:
Submitted by admin on Wed, 05/06/2009 - 09:11
Newsweek magazine just did a big story on Mad Pride and The Icarus Project, profiling Freedom Center co-founder Will Hall.
Submitted by lee on Sun, 03/29/2009 - 13:51
Yet again, the city of Northampton has recognized the valuable services that Freedom Center has provided and has given the Freedom Center additional funding to keep our programs going. The city of Northampton awarded the Freedom Center $2,500 towards helping to maintain our weekly writing group, acupuncture clinic, yoga classes, and support group. All of these programs take place in Northampton and are free and open to the public and therefore provide lots of benefit to northampton residents.
Submitted by admin on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 03:38
Note - after many years of Freedom Center offering free acupuncture weekly, these services are now being organized by the Recovery Learning Community in Holyoke - contact them for more info!
Submitted by admin on Fri, 02/06/2009 - 01:16
The solicitation ordinance, which if passed would have de facto criminalized panhandling in most of downtown Northampton, has been withdrawn by the mayor's office & the police department from the Northampton city council'sconsideration and is "tabled indefinitely".
They cited "polarization around the issue" (that is, increased opposition to it!) making the discussion "no
Coming Off Drugs Guide Now In Spanish! Guia Reduccion de Drugs Psiquiatricas Disponible en Castellano!
Submitted by admin on Mon, 02/02/2009 - 15:04
The Harm Reduction Guide to Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs, published by The Icarus Project and Freedom Center, is now available in spanish - thanks to the dedicated translation work of Agustina Vidal from Buenos Aires Argentina.
Submitted by admin on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 12:01
John Brodie was a Vermont man who died in an encounter with Brattleboro police in 2006 after neighbors called 9-11. At 36, John was a Princeton PhD and already a world-reknowned physicist widely published in scientific journals. He was also a psychiatric abuse survivor, whose non-ordinary mental states were repeatedly met with force in hospitals. On the night of his death, he was not violent or suicidal, but was behaving in a strange way -- knocking on doors at 11pm. Confused neighbors called the police, which escalated a harmless situation into a tragedy. John ran away, terrified of the police, and went into the freezing river.