Our Latest Blogs

Top 5 Mental Health Benefits of Quitting Drugs and Alcohol

I remember my struggles with quitting drugs and alcohol quite vividly. I was at a point in my life when chasing intoxicated states was all that I could think about. It was a way for me to escape the negative feelings and the harsh realities of where I was in my life. My thought process […]

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): A Major Depression Treatment That Doesn’t Rely on Medication

Just about everyone has experienced a chapter in his or her life when things just looked bleak.  An occasional bout with the blues is a normal aspect of the human condition and our physiological and psychological response to hitting a patch of difficult challenges.  For most people, the depression symptoms will resolve in a timely […]

7 Anti-Sadness Secrets for Coping with Depression

Charlie Brown’s comic creator, Charles Schulz, maintained that “happiness is a warm blanket.” Sadness, though, is a wet blanket. It envelops you—making it difficult to breathe, to see the sunlight, to function on an everyday basis. It need not be debilitating, though. There are ways to come out from under.  Here are seven realities for you to think […]

The Light of Bipolar Disorder: Creativity

BipolarDisorderandCreativity - Sunset with girl in field

So often, we are consumed by the negative factors that revolve around bipolar disorder. We are overwhelmed with the depression, the mania, and the anxiety. We are absorbed with our struggles and ability to maintain balance. We forget there is a bright side to our mental disorder. The creativity gene is festering inside of all […]

How to Stop Compulsive Hair Pulling: 10 Things You Can Do to Beat Trichotillomania

How to Stop Compulsive Hair Pulling: 10 Things You Can Do to Beat Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a recurrent, chronic compulsion to pull hair. It usually starts in early adolescence and can last a lifetime. The behavior causes significant distress physically and emotionally often causing people to withdraw socially for fear of judgment. There is no cure for this disorder, but it can be successfully managed. Therapy by a qualified […]

What Comes First: Addiction or a Mental Health Problem?

Mental health and addiction. What comes first?

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association: 53% of people with a mental health disorder also experience problems with alcohol or drugs. 29% of people with a mental health disorder have a co-occurring addiction disorder at some point in their lives. These statistics may lead you to believe that mental health problems cause […]

Co-Occurring Disorders: How Mental Health and Substance Use Are Linked

Co-occurring disorders are two or more behavioral health disorders which occur together in the same person.  The term is often used to describe any mental health disorder that is accompanied by substance abuse, a problem that affects millions of Americans. The reasons may vary widely from one individual to the next, but the symptoms are […]

6 Essential Skills Therapists Recommend to Help You Thrive in an Emotional Crisis

Thrive in Emotional Crisis. Girl in front of lake and mountains.

We all experience crises in our day-to-day life. Sometimes these crises are big, like a death, and sometimes they are small, like traffic. DBT distress tolerance skills help you get to a more manageable emotional place for crisis survival. Skill 1: TIPP When to use it: When you’re at your emotional breaking point. How to […]

‘Toughen Up, It’s Part of the Job’ – Coping with the Emotional Trauma of Emergency Service and Healthcare Work

Stressed medical professional struggling with mental health

This week we present a guest blog post from a British physician, Dr. Benjamin Janaway, who writes about medicine and politics for the international press.  Normally, our focus at www.rtor.org is on those who look to under-resourced and overstretched healthcare systems for help with mental health and emotional struggles, including trauma.  Dr. Janaway’s guest post […]

School Truancy: Could Depression or Anxiety be the Cause?

School children working in a classroom at desks. School Truancy, School Avoidance, School Anxiety, School Refusal

What is the significance of truancy? When students are repeatedly absent from school, the potential consequences are endless. Lower achievement, higher risk of dropout, legal troubles, and suffering relationships are a few on the individual level. On the national level, truancy means a less-educated and less-prepared workforce. Less education has implications for our communities when […]

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, […]

Important Tips on Staying Sober Through the Holidays

Staying sober can be a struggle on any day, but the holidays tend to be some of the most challenging times to maintain one’s sobriety.  There is no shortage of parties, old memories, and the general pressures and stress of the season to weigh in on one’s mind. It is all too easy to end […]

Four Things to Remember When a Loved One Has Depression

When my psychiatrist first diagnosed me with depression, I put some real thought and preparation into how to tell my closest friends and family.  It’s not something one can easily bring up in casual conversation, (i.e.: “Hey, did you catch the ball game last night?  By the way, I’m depressed.”) It was not an easy […]

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – More Than Just the “Winter Blues”

Most people look forward to the wonderful colors of fall and exciting holiday season after that. It is the time to enjoy being indoors with family and friends. However, for patients suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the shortening of days and lack of sunshine is not something to look forward to. For these patients, […]

Understanding the Connection Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Nearly 45 million American adults struggle with mental illness each day. To complicate matters, individuals who have mental health disorders are much more likely to struggle with substance abuse than the general population. Approximately 20 million American adults have a diagnosed substance use disorder, and over eight million Americans struggle with both a diagnosed substance […]

Abnormally Normal: How to Help a Friend or Family Member with OCD

All people have some form of obsession in their lives, it is what drives the human condition. For most people, they can simply rate these things on the standard scale of wants to needs. And with those wants and needs come compulsions to quell these wants and needs in their heads by doing something. Every […]

6 Ways That Depression May Lead to Substance Abuse

Depression is a mood disorder that can wreak havoc on your life. It comes with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, numbness, and isolation. It is this numbness, the inability to feel anything at all, that drives many people to substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol provide a shock to the brain so that suddenly, after months of […]

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 […]

6 Tips for Managing Depression

depression tips

We are fortunate to all be living in an age when mental illness has significantly less stigma attached to it than it once did. Anyone who is suffering from depression can be forthcoming about their condition as well as be openly proactive in finding ways to mediate their symptoms and strive towards living with their […]

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 […]

Depression & Addiction: From Escaping Myself to Fighting the Problem

escaping myself

Almost half of those who live with a mental health disorder also experience a substance use problem (SAMHSA). Today’s guest author, Parker, lived with depression and addiction issues until he was able to find recovery. Parker’s inspiring story shows that there is hope and that recovery is possible. Thank you, Parker, for sharing with us at www.rtor.org. […]

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 […]

6 Things that Everyone Thinks are Signs of Mental Illness but Aren’t

imsobipolar tweet

Can you easily tell the difference between average behavior and mental illness? Probably not. There is a lot of misinformation floating around in our society about mental illness, making it hard to tell whether certain behaviors might be quirks or might be a sign of something more. To show you the typical human behaviors most […]

Depression in Teenagers and What to Do About It

teen depression

Today’s post comes to us from blogger, Erica Silva. Her article breaks down teenage depression and its treatment options into simple terms that any teenager could find helpful. If you are a parent of a teenager who might be experiencing depression, this post could help him or her better understand what is going on with […]

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 […]

The Power of Mindful Writing

mindful writing

Just in time for National Poetry Month, today’s post comes to us from Family-Endorsed Provider, Marianela Medrano, PhD, LPC. Dr. Medrano is a psychologist, poetry therapist, and an accomplished writer. She shares her insights on the influence Mindful Writing can have on our mental health. Thank you, Dr. Medrano, for sharing your insights with us at […]

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 […]

Cool Millennials and Stressed-Out Moms: Normalizing Excessive Drinking in Young Women

women and drinking

Both men and women enjoy drinking for a variety of reasons—to celebrate an event, to socialize with others, or calm down after a long day. Regardless of its benefits, alcohol can still cause dependence in both men and women. Yet, the stereotype of the alcoholic is usually pictured as a middle-aged man who would prefer […]

“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 […]

SuperBetter: The App that Turns Mental Health into a Winning Game


Do you wish that taking care of your mental health and wellness was fun? Does it feel nearly impossible to break free from your negative thoughts and habits while taking steps to improve your overall happiness? Even with the guidance of a therapist, it still might feel daunting to work on your mental health every day. That’s […]

Supporting vs. Enabling: Do’s and Don’ts for Families and Supporters of People in Eating Disorder Recovery

mom and daughter

To get a head start on National Eating Disorder Awareness week, today’s post comes to us from Gillian Tanz, Assistant Clinical Director at Monte Nido River Towns. Gillian discusses the do’s and don’ts of supporting a family member or friend who is in eating disorder recovery. Thank you, Gillian, for sharing your knowledge with us at […]

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 […]

Building Resilience From The Ground Up


Today’s post comes to you from Family-Endorsed Provider, Alex Diaz, Ph.D. He discusses how to build resilience so we can better handle the challenges of day-to-day life. Thank you, Alex, for sharing with us at www.rtor.org. –Veronique Hoebeke, Associate Editor  In terms of human development, resilience is known as the ability to successfully overcome challenges and […]

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 […]

This New Year’s Choose Values Over Resolutions

new years

Today’s post comes to us from Family-Endorsed Provider and Eating Disorder Specialist, Susan Schrott, DCSW, CEDS. In her post, she discusses the importance of reconnecting with one’s values before committing to any kind of change. Some of this advice is tailored to those who live with eating disorders but anyone can learn from her message. […]

7 Signs Your Friend or Family Member is at Risk for an Eating Disorder


  The Holiday season is heading our way and that means two things: family gatherings and food. You might not have seen some of your friends or family members in a long time. Maybe you live far away or they recently went away to college. Regardless, you might have noticed some changes about them that raise […]

Alcohol and Self-Starvation: The Dangerous New Trend

beer on table

  We all know that college can be a breeding ground for partying. Many parents may worry that their kids in college might drink too much and develop an addiction, yet many don’t know that young adults are also at risk for developing an eating disorder. Unfortunately the two can come together to form a variety […]

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 […]

We Say We Want A Revolution

woman by lake

  In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are inviting different guest bloggers each week in the month of May to write about their perspectives on mental health. Today’s guest blog post comes from Lisa Scott whose post highlights the importance of gratitude and the power of speaking out about mental health issues. Be sure to check out Lisa’s […]

Managing Depression with Gratitude and Art

debi strong gratitude heart

  In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are inviting one guest writer a week in the month of May to write about their perspectives on mental health. Today’s guest blog post comes from Debi Strong who currently has an art exhibit, 365 Days of Gratitude, that is touring several venues around the country. Her post covers her struggles with life-long depression […]

How You Can Help Someone Struggling with Mental Illness: Support Before Advice


  In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we are inviting one guest writer a week in the month of May to write about their perspectives on mental health. Today’s guest blog post comes from Farsh Askari whose post covers the need for more supportive dialogue when discussing mental illness. Be sure to check out his blog, The OCD Memorist. Thank […]

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 […]

Spotting the Early Warning Signs of Heroin Addiction

Spotting the Early Warning Signs of Heroin Addiction

  In honor of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Awareness Month, today’s guest blog post comes to us from Matt Abbasfard from Northbound in Newport Beach, CA. He discusses the warning signs of heroin and opioid addiction and the importance of seeking help for a loved one who might be struggling with a substance use disorder. Heroin […]

Four Lessons to Learn from “The Center Cannot Hold”


  I recently read The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks, an autobiography about the Yale-educated law professor’s life-long struggle with schizophrenia. It would be easy to write a book review, judging the work solely on its entertainment value and well-crafted prose. Yet, the core of the book contains serious messages about mental health, mental illness […]

What the British Royal Family is doing for Mental Health

Kate and Harry

The royal family of England is known around the world. While this ruling family only has a small fraction of the political power that they once had, their fame and influence seems to be at an all-time high. Even though the media frets over what Kate Middleton is wearing and who might Prince Harry marry, this family […]

Spiritual Wellness is for Everyone

Spiritual Wellness

  Writing this blog post has not been easy for me. The trouble I’ve had with this post isn’t because I find it too much for me or the topic uninteresting, it’s because I don’t identify myself as a spiritual person and struggle with the notion that one has to be spiritual to be well. […]

8 Eating Disorder Myths

eating disorder

To honor Eating Disorder Awareness Month this February, I am busting common eating disorder myths so everyone can get a clear picture of how serious these types of disorders are.   1. Eating disorders are rare It’s estimated that 11-24 million people in the United States and over 70 million people worldwide (North Dakota State University) […]

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 […]

Interview with Ginny Levy, Co-editor of “Parts Unbound”

ginny levy

  On a gloomy Connecticut morning in December, I sat down with Ginny Levy to discuss her most recent project, Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness and Health which is published by LimeHawk Books. The book contains 18 essays detailing different experiences of mental illness. The majority of the writers speak about their own experiences of […]

“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 […]

Renaming Mental Illness: Getting Your Feedback

rename mental illness

  Does the term “mental illness” bother anyone else as much as it bothers me? As a treatment provider helping people to determine if they would like to discuss their “disability” with an employer, I have been in the uncomfortable situation of informing someone that their anxiety disorder, depression,  PTSD or some other DSM diagnosis […]

‘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 […]

Kevin Breel, 21 Year Old Mental Health Activist and TEDx Speaker Coming to Stamford, CT

boy meets depression

                            Rtor.org’s sponsor, Laurel House, is proud to announce they will be hosting a speaking event for mental health activist and comedian, Kevin Breel. At the ripe age of 19, Kevin bravely took the stage for a TEDx Talk to speak out about his personal […]

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 […]

What is Anxiety? “The Ball of Nerves” Will Help You Understand

ball of nerves cover

  You are in a crowded room at a party you don’t really want to be attending. But you decide to try and make the best of it. A few minutes go by and you start to feel a knotting in your stomach then, a pain in your chest. A few more seconds pass and […]

Riding Backwards: Retraining Your Brain to Cope with Trauma


  Remember how you learned to ride a bike?  What if you had to unlearn everything you knew about this basic task you probably learned in childhood? This video illustrates how hard it is to re-train the brain to think differently.  The narrator of this video speaks about his experiment riding a backwards-handled bike.  During […]

Psyberguide.org: Where Technology and Mental Health Meet

keyboard mouse and smartphone

  The world is becoming more and more tech-savvy so it makes sense that the field of mental health is starting to go digital. But with new mental health software and smartphone apps released almost everyday, people need a trusted source to review these products. That is where Psyberguide.org comes in. Psyberguide is a website that […]

RtoR Scavenger Hunt Quiz: Caring for a Family Member with Mental Illness


  This is the first of many RtoR Scavenger Hunt Quizzes where you can search our site and/or the Web for answers to each question. This quiz’s theme is about being a caregiver for a loved one with a mental illness or mental health disorder. Good Luck!     Thanks for playing! Tell us how […]

Bipolar Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder: Knowing the Difference

bipolar vs bpd

  Maybe you have noticed that the free and open style of the Internet has encouraged many bloggers and social media users to open up about their experience with bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. While many of these people may have a confirmed mental health disorder, some give the impression of being self-diagnosed or […]

Mental Health App Review: Pacifica

pacifica logo

  Pacifica is a free smartphone app that is designed to use the principles of Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness to help with daily stress, anxiety and depression. With anxiety and depression being the most common mental health disorders, I’m glad that app developers are addressing this issue. There are six major aspects to Pacifica and each one has […]

Is Dylann Roof Mentally Ill? A Plea for Sanity in the Aftermath of the Charleston Shooting

dylann roof mugshot

  Less than twenty-four hours after the horrific racially-motivated murders at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, armchair psychiatrists on the Internet were speculating whether the alleged killer has a mental illness.  Among the first responses to an online article in the Wall Street Journal announcing the arrest of a suspect, 21-year […]

The Great Debate: Smoking vs. Mental Illness

no smoking

  It’s common knowledge that smoking is harmful for your health yet it’s not as well-known that up to 70% of those who use tobacco products also have a mental health diagnosis. There is an on-going debate about whether or not hospitals should forbid those with mental illnesses from smoking. Some claim that limiting access to […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Now We Want to Hear from You!

may 31

  At last!  The end of May is here and I can write the final post of the day for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Month.  It isn’t easy posting on a new mental health topic every day and now I have a much better appreciation for what it is like to be in the […]

Thinking Well Activity Series: Playing Oratory Jenga

word jenga

This Thinking Well activity is designed for program participants to practice communication skills in either social or professional settings. It is designed for use in a group setting with a clear leader for the activity:   Participants in the Thinking Well program who near completion of their cognitive training classes regularly express the desire to find employment. The computer-based exercises of cognitive […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Mental Health or Mental Illness – What’s the Difference?

brain question mark

How common is mental illness?  The answer depends on what you mean by “mental illness.” The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that 18.6% of adult Americans experienced mental illness in the last year (call this the “1-in-5 definition”).  The rate for children is slightly higher, although the childhood statistics from NIMH refer to […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: This Year’s Recipient of the “Power of One” Award, Chitra Ramcharandas

chitra volunteer

Volunteers make a great contribution to many people’s lives. Here in the mental health field, we understand the impact just one caring individual can make. Laurel House, the non-profit mental health organization that brings you Rtor.org, publicly honors one special volunteer each year with its “Power of One” award.  The past three award winners were […]

Remembering John Nash, Jr., Nobel Prize Winner and “Beautiful Mind” with Schizophrenia


  On Saturday, May 23, mathematician and subject of the book and film “A Beautiful Mind” John Nash, Jr. died with his wife Alicia in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was 86 years old and had just received the prestigious Abel Prize from the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, when […]

The “Cheaper Than Therapy” Fashion Trend: Not a Joke

  In the last few months, I’ve noticed that the women’s clothing departments in several mainstream clothing’s stores selling T-shirts with a slogan that decrees a certain activity is “cheaper than therapy”.  I’ve personally seen yoga, running, gardening and wine all being advertising as a therapy substitute. It’s not only in the stores; as I […]

“Recalling War”, PTSD and Memory: A Reflection for Memorial Day


Robert Graves in his poem “Recalling War” reflects on the experience of war in human memory.  The poem was written twenty years after the end of World War I, in which Graves served as an officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.  In the opening lines, he could be describing a typical Memorial Day as most […]

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