Our Latest Blogs

Silver Hill Hospital: My Family’s 35-Year History with a National Leader in Quality Mental Health Care

Before I started working at Laurel House, became a social worker, and got involved in rtor.org, my first encounter with the mental health system was as a family member. That was in 1987. I was thirty and had just returned from five years in the Peace Corps. My younger brother Michael met me at JFK […]

Connecticut Mother Who Lost a Son to Overdose Shares Her Story and Hosts Wilton Fundraiser to Benefit Laurel House

In February 2020, our lead Resource Specialist and Clinical Director Denise Vestuti received a call from a mother from Norwalk, CT, distraught over her 31-year-old son’s low emotional state and addiction relapse. The call was like many of the hundreds of requests for help received at rtor.org each year—a distressed parent or other family member […]

Laurel House Offers $10,000 Racial Equity Scholarship for a Black or Hispanic Student Pursuing a Master’s of Social Work Degree

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.  – Malcolm X   * Post updated 05/01/2024 * In May 2022, Laurel House, Inc., the sponsor of www.rtor.org, announced the creation of a $10,000 scholarship available each year to a Black or Hispanic resident of Connecticut enrolled […]

Deep Thoughts on the Origin, History, and Experience of Anxiety

shoes hangin off cliff over ocean

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Those words are from the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s treatise The Concept of Anxiety. His definition of anxiety makes intuitive sense. Anxiety is a mental condition you feel in your body. It can seize your gut with a nausea-inducing dizziness. Freedom comes with choice, and choice – specifically, the […]

NAMI Southwest CT Virtual Speaker Event – November 5, 2020

laptop join us message

Next week, Shatterproof Founder and CEO Gary Mendell will speak on Addiction and Mental Health in the Era of Coronavirus on November 5, 2020, from 7:00 to 8:30 PM on Zoom. Mr. Mendell is the founder and CEO of Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastation the disease of addiction causes families. […]

September 2020: The Biggest Month Yet for www.rtor.org

rtor page on mobile phone

www.rtor.org is a free online service that helps families and individuals affected by mental health concerns connect with expert treatment and services. Through this website, individuals and families can contact a Resource Specialist by phone or email for personalized help with a problem, obtain information about best practices, or consult the Directory of Family-Endorsed Providers […]

Darien Town Champion Lily Genovese and Fellow Seniors Graduate as Darien High School Class of 2020!

graduation 2020

In March, we shared an editorial from the Darien Times written by Darien High School senior Lily Genovese. The opinion piece, A letter to Darien High School seniors, is a reflection on what it was like for students of the Class of 2020 to have their senior year and graduation disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. […]

Recovery, The Whole Family’s Journey

Whole Family Journey

Have you ever been through a mental health crisis with someone you care about: a child who dreads going to school because of severe anxiety; a young adult who still lives at home and won’t leave the house; a sibling, spouse or parent who is so depressed he or she has lost the will to […]

Capital One and Così of Stamford Join Laurel House to Deliver Holiday Meals to Adults with Mental Health Conditions During the Pandemic

fairfield county handing out food

Employees of Capital One’s Stamford office joined Laurel House and the staff of Così in Stamford to deliver 70 box lunches to participants in Laurel House’s supportive programs for people living with mental health disorders. Laurel House’s annual Memorial Day picnic is a favorite holiday event for clients. Many look forward to it weeks in […]

Those Who Serve: A Salute to Our Mental Health Care Heroes

thank you frontline heroes sign.

May is Mental Health Health Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the impact of mental health disorders on individuals and their families every day of the year. For people living with mental illness, the coronavirus pandemic is one more challenge among many they face each day. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that having […]

Coping with Coronavirus Quarantine: Resources for Caregivers of Loved Ones with Mental Health Conditions

mother and daughter face masks

By now, we have all heard reports of how the coronavirus pandemic and economic shutdown are affecting mental health. Social isolation, job loss, disruption of routines, and grief or fear of losing loved ones have created conditions that seem likely to set off an explosion of depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, 22% of Americans over the […]

Local Therapists to Speak on Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Greenwich, CT

candle in pine

Next month, two local therapists will offer a free presentation on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) on January 16, 2020 from 7:30 to 9:00 PM at Greenwich Town Hall in Greenwich, CT. Alison Emel, PhD and Kristie Calvillo, LCSW are co-founders of The Behavior Therapy Group in Riverside. They are also featured psychotherapists in our Directory […]

Stressed-Out, Anxious, and Depressed on Campus – A Review of a New Guidebook for Parents on the Challenges of College for Today’s Emerging Adults

college stress

The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years A review of the new book by Janet Hibbs, PhD, MFT and Anthony Rostain, MD, MA A depressed young adult named Nick lives at home with his parents, playing video games all night and rarely venturing outside of the […]

Laurel House, Inc. and www.rtor.org announce the launch of Close to Home, a new mental health blog for Fairfield County

lLaurel House & R2R Launch New Mental Health Blog for Fairfield County

Laurel House, Inc., a provider of mental health services in Fairfield County, CT, for over 35 years, launched a new initiative in 2014 to help people living with mental illness and their families. The result was www.rtor.org, a gateway website that helps families find expert resources and support for loved ones with mental health concerns. […]

5 Things I Learned from Running a Mental Health Website for Families: Celebrating www.rtor.org on its 5th Anniversary

celebrate rtor anniversary

May is a great month to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. May is the perfect wedding month. Babies born in May are the biggest of the year and adults with May birthdays consider themselves lucky and express more optimism than those born in other months. What better time to enter the world than when the […]

Hope for the Holidays: A Light in the Darkness for Those with Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders

“Dear George, Remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings! Love, Clarence” – It’s a Wonderful Life With all the anticipation, excitement, expectation, and preparation that go into the holidays it is probably inevitable that we end up feeling a certain amount of disappointment this special time of year. This […]

Anxiety from My Head Down to My Toes

“Merging our bodies with our minds first starts with tuning into all the places and ways we experience anxiety and grief throughout our whole bodies.” For years, I lived with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Oddly enough, it was feelings of physical distress in my body that caused me to seek help for the problem in […]

Failure to Launch Part 6: Diagnosis – The Most Common Mental Health Problems Associated with FTL

Since I started blogging about the epidemic of young adults living at home and not moving forward in their lives, people from across the United States, most of them parents, have contacted us on a daily basis about the problem they refer to as “Failure to Launch,” “Failure to Launch Syndrome” or simply “FTL.” I […]

Our American Dream: Independence for All Americans, Including Those with Mental Illness

All people value independence, but for Americans it is our defining trait. Whether we descended from the Mayflower, or are first generation Americans born to immigrants, we were raised on a narrative that our forebears came here seeking independence and a better way of life. Never mind that some people’s ancestors were always here, while […]

Through the Past, Not So Darkly: The Rolling Stones, Mental Health and Aging

I still don’t know which is more unbelievable: waking up one morning last year to discover I was 60 or realizing that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones will both be turning 75 later this year. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss, but Mick and Keith managed to accumulate their […]

Failure to Launch Part 5: Before You Write the Eviction Letter – Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Transition to Independent Living for Your Young Adult

Failure to Launch

For the past few weeks, social media and the major news networks have been buzzing with a story about a New York couple who successfully sued to have their 30-year-old son evicted from their home. News outlets from Good Morning America to The New York Times are calling it a “real- life case of Failure […]

Celebrating All the Moms Who Take Care of Family Mental Health on Mother’s Day

Anyone know what day of the year sees more phone traffic than any other? That’s right, Mother’s Day, which this year falls on May 13 in the United States. Calls on that day can rise by as much as 37%, as dutiful sons and daughters across the country get on the phone to convey something […]

Is Mental Illness a Disease: A Trauma-based Look at Mental Health Disorders Through the Lens of West Side Story

There are many great songs from the musical West Side Story, but my favorite has always been the brilliantly satirical “Gee, Officer Krupke.”  In this number, the Jets’ leader Riff plays a troubled youth who is passed between experts eager to judge what is wrong with him.  In the hand-off between psychiatrist and social worker […]

Ring Out the Magic, Ring In the Real for Better Mental Health and Wellness: Unusual New Year’s Traditions from the Past Revisited

New Year’s is the one holiday that is universally celebrated around the world.  Although the methods of celebration and sometimes even the dates vary from place to place, every culture has a New Year tradition.  Many of these traditions are quite unique and interesting. My first New Year’s as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras, […]

Holiday Stress Getting You Down? This Year, Give Yourself (and Those You Love) the Gift of Gratitude

Christmas and the holiday season can be the happiest, most wonderful time of the year.  At least that’s what the songs on the radio and in all the stores keep telling us from the middle of November to New Year’s Day. For many of us it is also the most stressful time of year:  complicated […]

When Your Young Adult with “Failure to Launch” Won’t Get Help: Survival Tips for Parents Who Aren’t Done Parenting

Failure to Launch Syndrome

Failure to Launch Part 4 – In a blog post from 2016 I wrote about a serious problem in our culture, which I call “failure to launch” (FTL) I use this term in a non-judgmental way to describe the frustration and concern parents and other family members feel when a young person seems unable to move […]

Failure to Launch Part 3: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Chances are if you landed on this webpage, you are concerned about a young adult who still lives at home and does not seem to be moving forward in life.  Maybe that person is you, or maybe it’s a son or daughter, or someone in your extended family.  That young person may have been diagnosed […]

College Students with Mental Health Challenges Now Have Options to Help Them Stay in School

The first big learning for me when I began my career in mental health more than thirty years ago was how many lives had been derailed by mental illness and how unnecessary that seemed to be.  I decided to specialize in the rehabilitation and recovery side of mental health because I believed that people with […]

Watching My Way to Mental Health – One Bird at a Time


In addition to his duties as Editor in Chief of www.rtor.org, Jay Boll has been an avid birder ever since he lived in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, with its beautiful birds and wildlife. In a recent guest blog for Esperanza – Hope to Cope with Anxiety and Depression, Jay wrote about his pastime […]

Shame: The Other Emotion in Depression and Anxiety


Psychologists have identified anywhere between 6 and 10 basic emotions experienced by humans. The American psychologist Paul Ekman who developed an “atlas of emotions” mapping more than 10,000 facial expressions, identified six universal or “primary” emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. It will come as a surprise to no one that the primary emotion in […]

How to Get an Anxiety Disorder: 7 Tips for Ruining Your Mental Health


Anxiety may be one of the most unpleasant emotions we experience, but that does not always make it bad for us. I once attended a lecture by Yale childhood anxiety expert Dr. Eli Lebowitz, who pointed out that there would be a lot less crime and impulsive acts committed if some people experienced a little more […]

Mental Health Recovery: 6 Themes of Hope for Mental Health Awareness Month

What is Mental Health Recovery to You-

Recovery is a term much used in mental health, but not always understood. Some people think of recovery in relation to a cure or getting better.  Others associate it with 12-step recovery from addiction. Mental health recovery can be all those things, but for those living with mental illness the term most often describes an […]

Failure to Launch Part 2: Setting Expectations for Young Adults at Home

young woman

Last year I wrote an article about young adult anxiety which quickly became one of our most popular posts on rtor.org. The article, Failure To Launch:  9 Tips for Managing Anxiety in Dependent Adult Children, is based on a podcast by Yale anxiety expert, Dr. Eli Lebowitz. Since it first appeared in 2016, many people […]

The Disclosure Dilemma: Tips from an Employment Specialist

disclose mental health at work

As the Supported Employment Manager of Laurel House, Inc., my colleague Michael Marsico, LMSW, works with people who struggle with the dilemma of mental health disclosure and whether to share such personal information with an employer. Michael coaches people through every stage of the employment seeking, retention and advancement process, and has some great tips […]

“I Have An Alternative Life in My Head… Am I Mentally Ill?”


Last year I joined Quora, a question-and-answer website where questions on every subject imaginable are posed and answered by its community of users. The community includes such notables as Barack Obama, Steve Case, and Justin Trudeau, who have answered questions on occasion. If you are curious about how celebrities choose the charitable causes they endorse […]

The ECHO Effect: 12 Ways Telemedicine Can Improve Mental Health Care

woman with phone and laptop

Last month at a family support group, I met the father of a young woman with bipolar disorder who was about to move back home. He and his wife were concerned about the move, understandably torn between the impulse to take care of a daughter with a serious health condition and the desire to see […]

Reasons to Be Cheerful, 2016: Don’t Let Cognitive Bias Overshadow the Good Things that Happened in “the Worst Year Ever”

The Cubs 2016

  Could there have been a worse year than 2016?  It began with the World Health Organization’s announcement of a widespread outbreak of the Zika virus and seems to be ending on a note of political rancor in the United States, while terrorist attacks threaten Europe and the suffering in Syria reaches new levels of […]

Families, the Holidays & Mental Health: A Place at the Table for Everyone

Holiday meals with my family usually include an empty setting at the table. That place is not there to honor someone who has passed away or a member of the military who is stationed overseas and couldn’t make it home for the holidays. It is reserved for a family member, my brother, who comes to […]

Families Helping Families: A Place to Turn for Mental Health Help and Support


  Have you ever faced a mental health crisis with someone in your family: a child who refuses to go to school because of intense anxiety; a teen who uses drugs and has started showing signs of a thought disorder; a sibling, spouse or parent who is severely depressed and no longer has the will […]

6 Reasons to Contact a Resource Specialist for Free Mental Health Help: Part 1 – Getting the Right Diagnosis

woman in therapy

Are you concerned that you or someone you care about has an untreated mental health problem that needs attention? Or perhaps you are worried that the treatment provided isn’t helping. Effective treatment and the path to recovery begin with a careful assessment of the problem. That’s why an accurate diagnosis is so important. There are […]

Strong Thinking Skills and Self-Care Saved My Dad from Mental Illness


One of my most treasured keepsakes from my father is a letter he wrote me from the hospital. I was six or seven, and in his letter of just a few sweet sentences he told me that he would be away for a while and that it was up to me, his oldest son, to […]

Evaluating Outcomes: 5 Signs Cognitive Therapy is Working for Someone with Schizophrenia or Other Mental Illness


When someone has a serious mental health disorder such as schizophrenia we always seem to know when things aren’t going well. It can be much harder to tell when things are going right. This final installment in our series on cognitive therapy looks at the results of treatment and how to know whether it is working. […]

The Anna Karenina Fallacy: 8 Things in “No Letting Go” That Happen to Families with Childhood Mental Illness

no letting go poster

In one of the most famous opening lines in literature, Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina begins: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If that were true, families dealing with childhood mental illness would fall into the “happy” category, because so many of their experiences are alike. I […]

Cognitive Therapy for Treatment of Psychosis: Choosing the Right Provider


  Often when young people and their families visit Laurel House, the top question on their minds is how a “psychiatric rehabilitation” program like ours can help people with serious mental illness have a better life. The concept of mental health rehabilitation can be hard to understand at first. But people usually get it when […]

7 Signs You or a Loved One Can Benefit from Cognitive Therapy

men in therapy

In my first article in this series on cognitive therapy, I explained Why Cognitive Therapy Works for People with Schizophrenia and Other Serious Mental Illnesses. In Part 2 of the series, I give some examples of problems cognitive therapy can help with and who can benefit. Key Points from last week’s post on Why It […]

Why Cognitive Therapy Works for People with Schizophrenia and Other Serious Mental Illnesses

female-student-struggles-to study

Part One in a four-part series on the benefits of cognitive therapy for people who experience psychosis. Forty years ago, there were two basic treatments for schizophrenia: medication and long-term hospitalization. Traditional psychotherapy was not usually offered because it did not help people with the most obvious and disturbing symptoms of psychosis: paranoia, delusions, and […]

Double Trouble & Beyond: Co-occurring Disorders in Our Favorite Characters from Movies, Novels and TV

Don draper

  In mental health, the term co-occurring disorders refers to the presence of two or more disorders in a person at the same time. In the past, co-occurring disorders were often confused with “dual diagnosis” (or “double trouble”), a term that was used to describe someone living with a mental illness and a substance use […]

Positive Quotes on Living with Schizophrenia

mental illness quote

  Schizophrenia is among the most misunderstand of mental health disorders. This may be partly due to the origins of the term schizophrenia, which are based on the ancient Greek skhizein (split) and phren (mind). The “split mind” label has led many people to confuse schizophrenia with multiple personality disorder (now referred to as Dissociative […]

Living Well with Schizophrenia

living well schizophrenia

  There was a time when a diagnosis of schizophrenia led to lifelong institutionalization. Improved treatments and a better understanding of this disorder have made it possible for people with schizophrenia to lead productive and highly satisfying lives in their communities. The following is a list of famous people diagnosed or otherwise thought to have […]

The Wendy Way: In Memory of Wendy Champeix (1962–2016), A True Champion for Mental Health Recovery


Laurel House, Inc., the non-profit sponsor of www.rtor.org recently lost a beloved, long-time employee, Wendy Champeix, who is honored in this post about her life as a Champion for Recovery.   The last time I saw Wendy she was conducting a walk-through of the Laurel House kitchen and café areas to make sure everything was in […]

No Letting Go: A Family’s Grief and Hope When Mental Illness Strikes

no letting go poster

  Thirty minutes into the family mental health drama No Letting Go 14-year old Tim (Noah Silverman) tosses aside his homework and shouts at his mother, “You don’t get it. I don’t need to go to school anymore.” He has been in therapy since he was ten and seems to have paralyzing anxiety that prevents […]

How-Not-To Parent Lessons from Homer Simpson: 10 Episodes of The Simpsons I Wish I’d Watched Before I Became a Father

home simpson and donut

  A few weeks ago while my wife was sorting through memorabilia from our early parenting years she found a picture my son, the budding artist, drew of his beloved father.               That’s right, it’s a drawing of “Ass of the Century” Homer Simpson, AKA Jay Boll in “disgise”, […]

Favorite Posts from rtor.org (2015-2016)


rtor.org Celebrates ‘May is Mental Health Awareness Month’ Last year for Mental Health Awareness Month our Associate Editor Veronique and I posted an article on a different mental health topic each day in the month of May.  This year we add some new voices and perspectives to the conversation, with 5 guest bloggers joining us on […]

Robin Williams Still Remembered and a Father’s Grief Takes a Trip to India

Maybe the worst thing about suicide is its finality. It is the one mistake that allows no second chances. When Robin Williams took his life in August of 2014 an entire nation grieved.  Our grief was of a partly selfish nature as we realized that there would be no new Robin Williams characters to move […]

Patty Duke: Award-winning Actor, Champion of Mental Health Recovery


  Yesterday, when I first learned of Patty Duke’s death (on Twitter, of all places), the first thing that went through my mind was the theme song from her hit TV show of the mid 1960s, The Patty Duke Show. If you are over 55 and grew up in America, it’s probably etched in your […]

Positive Quotes on Coping with Depression

Breel quote

  As a follow up to last month’s post Quotes About Anxiety I’ve selected a collection of quotes on coping with depression. Many people who experience serious depression refer to it in terms of deep emotional and spiritual pain. The writer John Styron in Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness describes his depression as an assault on […]

Failure To Launch:  9 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety in Dependent Adult Children

how to cope with grown child with mental illness

  This week I call your attention to the problem of “Failure to Launch” (FTL) in young adults. I’m not referring to the awful 2006 movie Failure to Launch starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker. In the Hollywood version of FTL a handsome, fun-loving yacht salesman who lives with his parents at age 35 has […]

Positive Quotes on Living with Anxiety

Anxiety Quotes

  A few months ago when I was researching my post on Living Well With Anxiety I came across some great quotes on the topic of anxiety which I’ve assembled here. Some are deep, like Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s statement that “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Some are funny, like editor Scott Stossel’s answer […]

Does Disney Princess Elsa Have Borderline Personality Disorder? Part II: Let It Go


  Anybody see this adorable home video last year? Apparently this little guy really loves the song “Let It Go” from the Disney animated feature Frozen. “Let It Go” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and quickly became one of the best loved Disney songs of all time. Columnist Yvonne Abraham called it […]

Co-occurring Disorders: Beyond Dual Diagnosis

co-occuring disorders

  Last fall for the third talk in Laurel House/RtoR’s Family Seminar Series, our featured speaker Dr. Jeremy Barowsky pointed out that we had used the outdated term “dual diagnosis” in our promotion of the event. Dr. Barowsky is the Director of Addiction Medicine at Greenwich Hospital Addiction Recovery Center. He also has a private […]

Welcome to The Family Side: A New Blog on Mental Health Recovery

family and friends sitting at a dining table

Dear Readers, Welcome to my new blog, The Family Side. For the past year and a half I have been blogging on www.rtor.org under the title of Eunoia: Thoughts on Healthy Thinking.  In my first post of May 2, 2014 I described my purpose for the blog: “to bring you news about best practices, research […]

This Year Forget the Resolutions: New Year’s Goals That Really Work

owl on snowy branch

  New Year’s is a time when many of us stop to reflect on the year just passed and promise ourselves that we’ll do better in the one to come.  The custom of making resolutions at the start of a new year goes back to the times of Julius Caesar.  He introduced the Julian calendar […]

Living Well With Depression

living well with depression

Depression is a common mental health disorder that tends to be cyclical in nature. Some people experience a single episode after a difficult event or period in their lives, while others struggle with it over the course of a lifetime. The following is a list of notable people who have experienced major depression or a […]

“Parts Unbound”: Many Voices on Mental Illness Come Together in a Single Volume

parts unbound cover

  If stories have the power to heal, then stories about mental illness have the potential to heal at the most fundamental level, touching on our sense of self and how we experience our lives.  We often think of illness in terms of its impact on the body.  But illness also affects the mind, and […]

Living Well With An Anxiety Disorder

Living Well anxiety

Your purchases of any items listed in this article on Amazon.com will help support the costs of running rtor.org, a free service of Laurel House, Inc., 501 (C)(3), non-profit organization This is the first installment in rtor.org’s “Living Well” series on notable people who have been recognized for their achievements in politics, science, and the […]

6 Popular Movies that Got Mental Illness Wrong

6 movies that got mental illness wrong

This article is co-written by Jay Boll, RtoR’s Editor-in-Chief and Veronique Hoebeke, RtoR’s Associate Editor. Both of them have used their combined knowledge of mental illness, psychology and love of film to come up with 6 of the most popular movies that get both the science and the realities of mental illness wrong. Warning: This article contains spoilers.   […]

‘Love & Mercy’ and Recovery: Beach Boy Brian Wilson’s Comeback from Mental Illness


  Rarely does a movie get beneath my skin the way that the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy did. As a child growing up in the 60s I preferred the American pop sound of the Beach Boys to the anglicized rock and roll of the Beatles. So I silently cheered when Paul Dano playing […]

‘Boy Meets Depression’ – A Heartfelt Story of Mental Health Recovery

boy meets depression

  In May of 2013 a Canadian comic named Kevin Breel gave an 11-minute TEDx Talk that went instantly viral with more than 3 million views to date.  Two big things about the speech “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” account for its success: the speaker’s age and the message he delivered. Kevin might downplay the […]

5 Reasons to Consult a Family Trust and Estate Lawyer Who Specializes in Mental Health Disability

  In a previous post, our Associate Editor Veronique Hoebeke wrote about the Benefits of Practicing Financial Wellness for people with mental health conditions.  Veronique’s post describes how people with mental health issues can improve their overall wellbeing by following basic practices of financial wellness, such as setting financial goals, budgeting and saving money.   But […]

September Song: Celebrating Comebacks and New Beginnings in National Recovery Month


  I love the month of September.  Here in the Northeast we tend to get a long run of warm and sunny days, low humidity, and cool nights.  Young people are back in school, many of them with a sense of hope and fresh beginnings.  Parents are glad to have the kids out of the […]