I am thrilled to be joining the National Empowerment Center (NEC) team as its Technical Assistance Center (TAC) Director. I am also looking forward to working with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to continue systems change state by state. The most important piece of what will inform my work is my lived experience with altered states of consciousness: being diagnosed, hospitalized, and subsequently finding a path to healing.
Work experience I bring to NEC includes co-directing the Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community (WM RLC) for the past four years. At the WM RLC I have helped develop a system funded peer-run alternative to the mainstream system that has experienced amazing success (www.westernmassrlc.org). I also co-founded the Freedom Center in 2001, the Pioneer Valley’s only independent peer-run support/activist organization. Freedom Center’s purpose is to empower and support people with psychiatric labels while challenging oppressive mental health policies and practices (www.freedom-center.org). I have served on several boards and committees internationally, nationally and regionally, including the International Network Toward Alternatives for Recovery (INTAR) and the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). I volunteered for several years with MindFreedom International, directing its Oral History Project. This project involved collecting and documenting c/s/x stories of abuse, empowerment, and healing in the mental health system. I am now adjunct faculty in the Westfield State College Psychology Department.
I look forward to starting on February 14th, 2011 and continuing the momentum that I've helped develop in western Massachusetts to help NEC bring truly recovery-oriented practices in mental health to a national level.
Oryx Cohen, M.P.A.