Our Latest Blogs

Wishing I had started celebrating Pride long before I did…

smiling man in front of Pride colors

As Pride Month approaches, I reflect back on the first Pride event my family ever attended. It was the most joyous, uplifting, and positive event, and we’ve looked forward to every opportunity to support and be a part of the LGBTQIA+ community ever since. Prior to that year, we hadn’t exposed our children to any […]

Back to School Support for New Canaan College Students with Mental Health Conditions

students walking on college campus

As the summer draws to a close and the new school year approaches, college students with mental health conditions and their families should be taking steps to ensure the necessary supports are in place. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges can significantly impact a student’s academic and personal life. Laurel House and its gateway […]

Help, My Child Is Cocooning and Stuck! How to Help Teens and Young Adults Who Have Been Impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic Behaviorally and Emotionally

teen girl on bed with smartphone

Adolescents and young adults are experiencing the highest rate of anxiety and depression ever reported in the US. According to a report from the COVID States Project, “…nearly half (49%) of respondents reported symptoms of depression, with 26% reporting moderate symptoms or worse, the level at which follow-up care would typically be recommended in a clinical […]

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 […]

The Parenting Backpack: Middle School and Mental Health

girl with black backpack

Last spring, there were two suicides in the high-achieving Connecticut town where I live. They were separate tragedies, one involving a twelfth grader, the other a tenth grader. It rocked us all, especially the classmates of these young people. We need not know what drove them to their last desperate act. It is not our […]

The Importance of Interdependence in Relationships

couple holding hands

The idea of independence is associated with strength, self-sufficiency, and autonomy. While being independent is important for survival, we cannot function independently without interdependence. Interdependence is when two or more people rely on each other for support, and it is a necessary and healthy part of our physical, mental, and emotional development. Interdependence is often […]

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 […]

Does Social Media Play a Role in Body Dysmorphia?

“Comparison is the death of joy.” – Mark Twain Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an obsession with one’s appearance and becoming overly focused on flaws (real or imagined), leading to significant emotional distress. Those who struggle with body dysmorphia often attempt to “fix” the problem with excessive exercise, dieting, or cosmetic procedures. Fixing or eliminating […]

Tips for Working with Bipolar Depression

happy woman walking

Bipolar depression can be a hard thing to deal with. Bipolar depression occurs after a manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder. It doesn’t always happen after a manic phase. Manic phases can happen on their own, as can bipolar depression. The purpose of this article is to offer tips on how to manage bipolar […]

Finally Beginning to Deal with Anxiety after a Trip to the Emergency Department

emergency department sign

For the ten millionth time, I recently ended up in the emergency department (ED) for shortness of breath, chest pains, and nausea.  What I didn’t realize is that these symptoms are also symptoms of a panic attack or anxiety.  Panic attacks can come on unexpectedly and manifest in physical symptoms.  This is something that has […]

3 Tips for Managing Depression from a Peer Support Specialist

woman runner with thumb up

I have worked for the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for almost 20 years as a mental health assistant and peer support specialist.  I was diagnosed with a mental health condition (bipolar disorder) at age 29.  Since then, I have been managing it with the help of psychiatrists and therapists and have […]

Addiction and Mental Illness in the Family: 5 Guiding Principles for Reclaiming Hope

black women hugging

Family connections are usually our closest relationships in life and have the greatest impact on our well-being. When a family member suffers from the disease of addiction or mental illness – everyone in that family suffers. Our thoughts can quickly become consumed with worry and anxiety due to both the illness and the challenges our […]

Social Anxiety in the Rear-View Mirror: 3 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was Younger

man sitting in café

“It’s all in your head!” I heard these words countless times growing up, typically after sharing some unshakeable feeling that was swirling around in my head. You see, my family never got in the weeds when it came to talking about topics like mental health. It was taboo. Instead, they would resort to shouting platitudes […]

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 […]

Marijuana and Psychosis: Evidence Points to Cannabis Triggering Lasting Psychotic Conditions

man smoking marijuana

Growing evidence shows cannabis use, particularly among adolescents and young adults, can trigger permanent psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia. At the same time, marijuana is increasingly being legalized, decriminalized, glorified in pop culture and easier to access.

“It’s heading in a terrible direction,” said Rocco “Rocky” Marotta, MD, PhD, Service Chief for the Adult Transitional Living Program at Silver Hill Hospital. “I see the suffering. I see families suffering. I see these kids’ lives destroyed.

Stress and the Isolating Effects of COVID-19 Make Suicide Prevention Awareness More Important Now Than Ever

sad teen with smartphone.

This week marks National Suicide Prevention Week, a week when we are urged to learn more about suicide and how each of us can take steps to prevent deaths by suicide in our communities and our country. This year it comes after months of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and as many of us face the stress of family members returning to school, college, or work under uncertain conditions. With so much on our minds and with a pandemic threatening our health, is it really important to talk about suicide? The answer is yes.

Marijuana and Psychosis: One Family’s Story – From Capable to Catatonic in One Year

young man with cannabis pipe

Carl just wanted his son back.

Jake had become “like a walking zombie who was incoherent and catatonic,” Carl said of his son. Jake had been admitted and released by several state mental health facilities after suffering what Carl believes is cannabis-induced psychosis.

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 […]

Managing Anxiety During the Coronavirus Crisis: Guidelines for Parents

parent and child homework

A Note from the Editor With the coronavirus pandemic as the top worry on everybody’s mind these days, we bring you a guest post by a Fairfield County therapist writing about anxiety in the era of COVID-19. Tracey Masella is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Wilton, CT. Kim O’Rielly, the Young […]

Ridgefield Therapy Group Offers Free Online Yoga Classes during Coronavirus Pandemic

yoga online learning

Insight Counselling, LLC, a therapy practice in Ridgefield, CT, is offering free online yoga classes, while Connecticut residents practice social distancing to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Elizabeth Jorgensen, CADC, the owner and director of Insight Counseling, is a guest blogger for www.rtor.org and a nationally recognized expert in counseling and engaging […]

A Darien High School Senior Reflects on Missed Graduation and What Matters Most During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Lily Genovese, a life-long Darien resident and senior at Darien High School, has been involved in the Darien community from day one. As a freshman, Lily joined the Darien Depot Teen Center Student Governing Board and is currently serving her second year as Co-President of the Depot’s Board. She also joined the Darien Community Fund’s […]

An Evening with Laurel House

evening with laurel house dance

Laurel House, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing mental health resources to people living with mental illness in lower Fairfield County, will hold its annual fundraiser on April 25, 2020 at the Delamar, Greenwich Harbor in Greenwich, CT. An Evening with Laurel House includes a cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, and raffles throughout the evening. All proceeds […]

Local Expert to Speak on Vaping in Wilton, CT

vaping teen

Next week, on January 13th and 15th Ridgefield-based psychotherapist Elizabeth Jorgensen, CADC, will present on the topic of “Vaping: What You Need to Know” at two locations in Wilton, CT. Liz is the owner and director of Insight Counseling, LLC, in Ridgefield, CT. She is a nationally recognized expert in counseling, particularly in engaging resistant […]

Laurel House Board Member Michael Parker Honored as Outstanding Health Advocate at 12th Annual Light a Fire Awards

2019 light a fire honorees

On December 5, Moffly Media held the 12th Annual Light a Fire Celebration of Giving at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT. Long-time Laurel House Board Director Michael Parker was one of ten individuals and organizations honored at the event, which celebrates volunteers, philanthropists, and organizations in lower Fairfield County “who have gone beyond 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 […]

Avoiding Loneliness During the Holidays

lonely holidays

The meaning and spirit of the holiday season is different for many of us, but what stands out, is the companionship we share with others. It’s no secret that most of us remember the holidays as the time of year for bringing friends and families together for a time of celebration. According to a survey, […]

Katonah, New York Book Event: Two Leading Mental Health Experts Talk about Their Guidebook for Parents of College-bound Teens and Young Adults

The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years

The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years: In Conversation – November 21st at the Walker Center for the Arts, Katonah, New York The transition from high school to college is fraught for parents and students alike. THE STRESSED YEARS OF THEIR LIVES: Helping Your Kid Survive […]

Laurel House Joins Communities 4 Action’s 6th Annual Recovery Celebration in Wesport, CT

Communities 4 Action Recovery Celebration

On Tuesday September 24, rtor.org Resource Specialists Denise Vestuti and Kim O’Rielly, and Laurel House Mobile Employment Specialist Greg Dunn, joined a group of over 200 people who joyously gathered at Mitchell’s in Westport, CT for Communities 4 Action’s 6th Annual Recovery Celebration in recognition of National Recovery Month. This community-wide event was conceived by […]

Co-occurring Disorders: The Link Between PTSD and Addiction

Most people who struggle with an addiction problem have also experienced significant past trauma. By the same token, 50-66% of individuals diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also live with co-occurring addiction disorders. The presence of one or more mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs) in the same person is referred to as co-occurring […]

New Canaan Residents, Community Groups, and Local Service Providers Join Together for Third Annual Addiction Awareness Vigil

candle light vigil

On Thursday evening September 5, staff from www.rtor.org and Laurel House, Inc., attended the 3rd Annual Community Addiction Awareness Vigil in New Canaan, Connecticut. The vigil was hosted by the New Canaan Parent Support Group and the New Canaan Community Foundation.  Denise Vestuti, Clinical Services Director for rtor.org, and Kim O’Rielly, Youth Services Manager, joined […]

Dabs, Wax, Vaping Weed, Edibles and the Real Impact of High Potency THC Products: What Parents Need to Know

vaping cannabis.

During the month of September www.rtor.org will be observing National Recovery Month with a guest blog series on addiction and substance use disorders. For our second article in this series, we are featuring a guest post from Elizabeth Driscoll Jorgensen, owner of Insight Counseling, LLC, in Ridgefield, CT, and Consultant to Family-Endorsed Provider Newport Academy at its […]

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. […]