Our Latest Blogs

Understanding Childhood Selective Mutism

scrabble letters quiet

  The sound of their child’s voice is something most parents love to hear. No doubt will the sudden cessation of that voice cause most parents to feel fear and confusion. Selective mutism is a form of anxiety which 7 out of every 1,000 children experience. There is no difference in the rate of prevalence by sex or […]

RtoR Family Resource Collection: Book Review of Diagnosis: Schizophrenia; A Comprehensive Resource

diagnosis schizophrenia book cover

A few years ago, I consulted with a colleague about a man I worked with who was having a hard time accepting that he might have schizophrenia. He was a deep thinker with a very rich and interesting past. His life had become increasingly restricted due to symptoms of his illness which he would not […]

Thinking Well Activity Series: Affirmation Hearts, a Workshop on Positive Self-Talk

affirmation hearts

  This Thinking Well activity is designed to promote positive thinking in the daily lives of program participants. While the activity is designed for use in a group setting, individuals can also benefit: Many of us have heard the term neuroplasticity, which is the idea that the adult brain is adaptable at any age and […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Towards a Functional Definition of Mental Health Recovery

walking away

A few months ago, I wrote about recovery as it relates to mental health (Time to Start Walking the Walk).  In that piece, I described a scientific approach to recovery that is based on two measurable conditions: human agency – the ability to exert control over oneself and one’s environment – and self-efficacy – a […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Think Mental Health has Nothing to do with your Bottom Line? Think again

man stressed at work

  Mental health is a topic no one in the workplace wants to talk about but no one can afford not to. Many companies lose revenue and productivity by not addressing mental health but the fear and shame surrounding the topic leads both employers and employees from speaking out about this very important issue. Mental […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Eunoia… Thoughts on Healthy Thinking

brain coral

Some of you may be wondering why I use that funny word for the title of my blog… Eunoia.  Here’s my very first blog post from May 2, 2014, with the answer. Eunoia: Thoughts on Healthy Thinking EUNOIA [yoo-noy-uh].  This little known word comes from the Greek εὔνοια, meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.” It is also […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Long Distance Crisis Management

long distance call

There are few things worse than watching a loved one’s mental health steadily decline because he is too sick to recognize he has a problem.  The feeling is even worse when the loved one lives halfway across the country: you know he’s in trouble, but can’t be there to help and have no idea of […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: 2-1-1… An Underused Resource


Although RtoR’s Directory of Family-Endorsed Providers focuses on the northeastern states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, our Resource Specialists receive calls from  people across the nation looking for help for a loved one with a mental health concern. A website’s reach does not stop at the state line. At rtor.org we try […]

RtoR Family Resource Collection: Book Review of The Family Guide to Mental Health Care

family and friends sitting at a dining table

For Mental Health Awareness Month, Resources to Recover kicks off its new Family Resource Collection with the one book that is indispensable to any family facing serious mental health concerns.  Dr. Lloyd I. Sederer’s The Family Guide to Mental Health Care is a comprehensive guide to the identification, care and treatment of mental illness.  There may […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Dr. A. Medalia Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Alice medalia

Last Month, the National Council for Behavioral Health presented the winners of its annual Awards of Excellence at the 2015 NATCON Conference in Orlando.  This year’s winner of the Inspiring Hope award for Reintegration Lifetime Achievement was Alice Medalia, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Columbia University Medical Center, and Director of […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Stopping the Stigma on Postpartum Depression

baby holding finger

  Those involved in Mental Health Awareness Month have done a lot to break the stigma that exists about people living with mental health disorders. Yet, one disorder is the target of extensive social shaming and victim blaming: Postpartum Depression. The cause of Postpartum Depression is not entirely clear; the research points to a combination of […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Splitting the Child – A Dilemma Worthy of Solomon


  The story of the Judgement of Solomon from the Biblical Book of Kings is one of the first recorded cases of legal jurisprudence.  You have probably heard of King Solomon’s famous ruling to literally split a child in half to share him between the two women claiming to be his mother.  The wisdom of […]

Moms: First Responders in Family Mental Health


One of the benefits of running a Facebook page for your cause or business is that you get to see data on the age and gender of the people who like, share or comment on your page and posts.  Facebook calls the people who like your page “fans.”  According to the website zephoria.com, 53% of […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Four Tips to Balancing the Mind with Nutrition

light up brain

  When living with a mental health condition, it can feel like your body and mind are out of your control. It’s nice to know that there is an aspect of your mental wellness that you have the opportunity to control every day. Healthy eating is the simplest way you can bring balance and wellness […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Beyond Awareness to Pride in Self and Others

cinco de mayo salsa dancers

These days, you could be forgiven for thinking that Cinco de Mayo is a new holiday celebrating Americans’ freedom to drink Mexican beer and enjoy delicious Mexican-American cuisine.  If you think it is the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, you would also be wrong.  In fact, the 5th of May is not even a national holiday […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Our Newest Family-Endorsed Provider of Psychotherapy Service

d&cbt center westport building photo

Psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy,” has a mixed record of effectiveness in the treatment of serious mental illness.  Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is one form of psychotherapy for which there is a substantial evidence base, especially when offered in conjunction with other treatments, such as psychopharma-cology. Another emerging best practice with a growing evidence base […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Connecting Families – Watch the New Video!

Family recommended mental health providers

Last night, about 175 Laurel House supporters gathered at  the Woodway Country Club in Darien, CT to watch the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, bid on items to benefit the Stamford-based non-profit, and honor this year’s “Champion for Recovery” Dr. Alan Barry, Commissioner of Social Services for the Town of Greenwich.  They also watched […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: The Slow Race to Recovery


How is recovery like a horse race? It’s not…  This evening, about 175 people will gather at the Woodway Country Club in Darien, CT to watch a horse race on TV, support a great organization, and celebrate mental health recovery.  The horse race is, of course, the Kentucky Derby, and the organization is Laurel House, […]

RtoR Mental Health Awareness Month: Nothing to Declare?

toll booth

  Twenty-seven years ago in May, I began a career in mental health.  This did not happen by design or training.  I had just left the Peace Corps after more than five years of volunteer service working with the street children of Tela, Honduras in Central America.  I returned to the US with my idealism […]

The Problem With Anonymity: Nobody Knows You’re There


A few weeks ago, I asked someone I know if she was getting the help she needed filling out forms that would allow her to continue receiving her state disability benefits.  This was an older person who is legally blind and has lived with a disabling mental illness her entire adult life.  She told me […]

Time To Start Walking the Walk: Towards a Science-Based Definition of Mental Health Recovery

walking away

Twenty years ago, when I spoke of recovery in mental health,  many people thought me misinformed.  “There’s no cure for mental illness,” one educated colleague told me.  Now it seems that every community-based mental health provider in the nation offers “Recovery-Oriented” services. The federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has this to […]

Does Princess Elsa Have Borderline Personality Disorder? Disney’s “Frozen” as a Story of Emotional Dysregulation

sad woman in snow blonde

          Has anyone else been wondering what’s up with the extreme winter weather we’ve been experiencing in the northeast lately?  I’m seriously wondering if Disney ice princess Elsa isn’t up to her tricks again… The following article is the first in a three-part series on the movie Frozen as an illustration […]

Help, Not Handcuffs: 8 Tips for Using Mental Health Crisis Services


  A few weeks ago I received a call from a distraught mother, concerned about her 43-year-old son with bipolar disorder. He was in the manic phase of his bipolar disorder and displaying worrisome behavior. The last time she called emergency services, the police tasered him in her home, arrested him and dragged him away in handcuffs. […]

Trading Places: An Audio Simulation Sensitizes a Professional to Potential Challenges Faced by People Who Hear Voices

Laurel House Employment Specialist Elizabeth Fouracre, LMSW, writes this week about her experience with a training program that simulates the subjective experience of a person with schizophrenia hearing voices. CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper undergoes a comparable sensitivity exercise and afterwards describe in terms similar to Elizabeth’s how profoundly difficult and isolating this experience was for him. Watch […]

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner to Speak on Mental Health Symptoms and Medication: Next Up in the Laurel House Family Seminar Series

On October 16, 2014 in Stamford, Laurel House will present the third installment in its Family Seminar Series on the topic of Medication and Symptomology.  Carol Monroe, a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, will talk about the symptoms of some common mental health disorders and the medications that are typically prescribed for them, including […]

New Government Report on Patient Dumping: Why Hospital Emergency Rooms are Not the Best Places to Treat Mental Health Emergencies

ED ambulance no entry

The United States Commission on Civil Rights has just released its 2014 Statutory Enforcement Report on Patient Dumping, which focuses on the admission and discharge practices of hospitals treating people with psychiatric disabilities.  Buried in this report is the finding that “mental health emergencies present unique challenges that may not be suitable for traditional emergency […]

Rehabilitation: The Awkward Third Wheel in Mental Health Care

bike wheel no bike

Building on last week’s post for National Recovery Month, I would like to draw your attention to an important yet frequently overlooked and under-appreciated aspect of mental health care: rehabilitation services.  Of the three basic components of public mental health systems – prevention, treatment and rehabilitation – rehabilitation is the one most closely linked to […]

Mental Health Recovery and the Unplanned Experiment of Untreated Mental Illness: Is Medication Necessary?

medication in bottle

Following up on Tuesday’s post on the meaning of recovery, here is an article by the noted psychiatrist and advocate E. Fuller Torrey that appeared in Psychiatric Times which questions whether people living with a severe mental illness are Better Off Without Antipsychotic Drugs?   Dr. Torrey acknowledges the many studies showing that 21-29% of patients […]

Two Paths in Mental Health Recovery: Reclaiming a Life of Meaning

Road To Recovery Sign

What does the term “recovery” mean for a young person diagnosed with a serious mental illness?  This website is intended as a resource to help families support the recovery of their loved ones with mental health conditions.  But is recovery a meaningful concept for someone diagnosed with schizophrenia? For many people, schizophrenia and other serious […]

Overload, Not Apathy: Breaking Goals into Smaller Steps to Overcome the Motivation Gap in Schizophrenia

building blocks

For the most part, the medications people take for schizophrenia treat only one symptom of the illness: the psychosis associated with delusions and hallucinations. Some of the most harmful effects of schizophrenia are the “negative symptoms” of flat affect, inability to take interest or pleasure in everyday life, lack of ability to begin and sustain […]

Motivational Interviewing of Limited Benefit for Treatment of Alcohol Abuse in Young Adults: A Report from the Cochrane Library

empty beer bottles

Sometimes a mental health treatment approach that looks promising turns out not to have a basis in science once research results are collected and assessed.  This may be the case with Motivational Interviewing (MI) when used for treatment of excessive drinking in young adults, according to a new report by the Cochrane Library: Motivational Interviewing for […]

‘Smart Justice’ for People with Mental Health Conditions – A Humane and Cost-Effective Alternative to Incarceration

san antonio mental-health-squad

San Antonio and Bexar County Texas have been the focus of attention lately for their model mental health system which pools city and county resources to provide appropriate, cost-effective care to their citizens with serious mental illness.  A two-part story on NPR and companion piece in The Atlantic show how San Antonio’s police work together […]

Cognitive Remediation: A Mental Health Treatment that Really Works

puzzle pieces

It’s encouraging to see that someone has written about an important mental health treatment called “cognitive remediation” from the perspective of a family member: The Consequences of Mental Illness That Nobody Talks About   As this opinion piece makes clear, there is a growing body of scientific evidence pointing to the benefits of cognitive remediation, a […]

Environmental Triggers and Early Intervention for Schizophrenia: A Real Life Story of Recovery


Yesterday, a reader of my blog, asked a question in the comments section about environmental triggers in schizophrenia. The short answer I wrote in reply was “Trauma, stress, use of marijuana and other psychoactive substances are thought to be common triggers of psychotic symptoms.” I did a little poking around today and found this story […]

Rare Housing Opportunity for People with Mental Illness: Connecticut Opens Waiting Lists for Section 8 and RAP Rental Subsidy Programs

person in sections

For the first time since 2007, the state of Connecticut will open its waiting lists for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program and the State Rental Assistance Program (RAP).   Starting today, August 4, 2014 and extending for the next two weeks through August 18, the state will be accepting pre-applications for these government […]

A Fine Line – The Link Between Creative Genius and Mental Illness

brain question mark

The American musician and comedian Oscar Levant may have been onto something when he said “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity.  I have erased this line.”  Levant, who wrote the humorously titled Memoirs of an Amnesiac, may have been playing on an old cliché about madness and creativity, but he was not entirely joking […]

The Double-Edged Sword of Mental Health Research: How Scientific Progress Can Lead to Stigma

green awareness ribbon

You might think that scientific advances in our understanding of the causes of mental illness would result in reduced fear and stigma of people with mental health disorders.   According to a Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne, this may not be the case. There is increasing public acceptance of the view that […]

Stigma’s Impact on Women and Families

borderline personality disorder vs bipolar

Fifteen years after the publication of Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General decrying the misconceptions and fear surrounding mental illness, stigma continues to be a significant barrier to people in need of mental health treatment.  While stigma impacts all people with mental illness, it impacts women, and especially minority women, disproportionally. Women may be more […]

Connecticut Philanthropist Donates $650 Million for Mental Illness Research

Bravo for Connecticut entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Stanley who recently committed $650 million for scientific research on the genetic contributions and molecular processes at work in severe mental illness.  This is the largest individual gift ever given for research on mental illness.  It should come as no surprise that Mr. Stanley was moved to make […]

Substance Abuse and Mental Health: One Alternative to Tough Love

bipolar drinking

I am always a little behind in my reading, but this July 3 article from the New York Times just caught my attention and I would like to comment on it here in case you missed it too: A Different Path to Fighting Addiction The article features the Center for Motivation and Change (C.M.C.) in New York […]

Anxiety and the Adolescent Brain


This New York Times Opinion piece by Richard A. Friedman, Director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, provides an informative look at the workings of the adolescent brain in cases of to anxiety. The article, Why Teenagers Act Crazy, explains that the part of the brain that processes fear, the amygdala, develops much faster […]

More Mental Health Treatment Needed for People with Diabetes


Recent studies have shown that adults living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than other Americans, largely due to treatable medical conditions (Morbidity and Mortality in People with Serious Mental Illness).  One of the biggest causes is diabetes – a serious condition, to be sure, but not one that would prevent a […]

Meet the Scientist: Dolores Malaspina, MD, on Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia

For the July 2014 segment of  Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s Meet the Scientist Webinar Series by Dolores Malapsina, MD, of New York University School of Medicine made a fascinating presentation on:  “Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia.” In her talk, Dr. Malaspina gave a simple explanation for the complex interplay of genetics with […]

A Hopeful Picture for People with Mental Illness Who Want to Work

It’s too bad USA Today decided to lead with such a downer title for the latest article in its current series on mental illness:   ‘Bleak Picture’ for Mentally Ill: 80% Are Jobless (usatoday.com, July 10, 2014) While this unfortunate fact is true, the good news, which the article brings to light, is that an effective […]

Jerry’s Law Will Help Children and Teens With Mental Illness Get Supportive Services in Schools

While more legislation is not the solution to every social problem, the bill before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo known as Jerry’s Law looks like a step in the right direction. If signed by Governor Cuomo, Jerry’s Law will require schools in the state of New York to notify parents of their right to have […]

Experimental Treatment for the Emotional Pain of PTSD and Anxiety


New Yorker Magazine published a fascinating article, PARTIAL RECALL: Can neuroscience help us rewrite our most traumatic memories?, which examines new efforts to treat anxiety, PTSD and addiction through an experimental process called “reconsolidation”. Reconsolidation aims to free people from the disabling impact of traumatic memories with drugs that act on neurons to alter or erase […]

Upcoming Webinar on Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia

I just registered for this webinar from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation’s monthly Meet the Scientist series:  “Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia” by Dolores Malaspina, M.D., M.S.P.H., Professor of Psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Malaspina will discuss a cross-disciplinary approach to the prevention, early detection, treatment […]

Great Blog on Mental Health Recovery

For the last few months I have been following a great blog on mental health, Shedding Light On Mental Illness.  It is written by Amy Gamble, a former Olympic athlete and businesswoman, who also happens to be living in recovery from bipolar disorder. Yesterday’s and today’s posts are on the “Pathways to Recovery” Workbook, which […]

ABC News: Barbara Walter Interview with Peter Rodgers


In a recent ABC News preview of an upcoming Barbara Walters interview with the father of UC, Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger. Peter Rodgers speaks out in  Mental Illness in Kids: How to Spot the Signs and Ask for Help  as a way to raise awareness and education people on the warning signs of mental health […]

E-cigarettes Still A Risk for People Living With Mental Illness

sleeping boy

We have known for some time that people living with mental illness are much more likely to use tobacco products than those without mental illness.  It’s estimated that more than half the cigarettes purchased in the United Sates are consumed by people with mental illness.  Now, a recent article in Time magazine, The Weird Link Between […]

Mental Health Stigma in America

close-up of angry eye

While states continue to cut back on mental health services, many people living with mental illness are reluctant to use remaining services for fear of being stigmatized. Read more in this well-researched feature article in USA Today…      Cost of not caring: Stigma set in stone

Parenting Tips for Adolescents with Mental Illness

friends running on beach

Good article here… Tips for parents of children with mental illness entering adolescence from the Omamas blog of oregonlive.com. As a child with mental illness moves into adolescence: tips, resources for parents Many of the resources listed in the article are local to Oregon, but the tips are section offers some good general guidelines and […]

Nighttime Seizure Monitoring

Man Helping a Family Member in Psychosis

Nighttime Seizure Monitoring:  A Mother’s Inquiries Lead to Innovation in the Care of Epilepsy Hi Everyone. I am blogging today on a topic closely related to mental health and mental illness: epilepsy, a neurological condition in which 20-30% patients share a co-occurring psychiatric disorder.  In 2005, RtoR Resource Specialist Eileen McAndrews (RN, LCSW) wrote an […]

First Appointments: Choosing the Right Psychiatrist, Therapist, or Other Mental Health Professional

doctor and patient

Someone you love needs help.  Following the recommendation of a trusted friend, or website such as rtor.org, you have identified a qualified mental health professional and made a first appointment.  By all accounts, this person has the experience and skills to do the job.  But how do you know he will be a good fit […]

Where to turn in a mental health crisis?

older couple holding hands

You might think that twenty-five years of experience in the mental health profession would have prepared me for what to do when a mental health crisis strikes at home.  It didn’t. When a member of my own family needed urgent mental health care, I had little idea of where to turn for help.   The process […]

Resources to Recover for Young Adults

Young adults

There is a new generation of young people being diagnosed with mental health disorders.  What our youth and their families may not realize is the vast growth in the field from 30 years ago.  Advancements in medicine and mental health care have provided an array of resources that can start individuals on a path to […]

Mental Health At Home: Tips for Family Members

With mental health disorders affecting an estimated 54 million Americans, the responsibilities that come along with providing treatment are affecting more and more families every year.  Support is one key element of recovery that individuals with mental health disorders need. This support typically comes from the individual’s family and loved ones.  What does this need […]

Student Film on Young Adults and the Mental Health First Aid Act

In 2013, President Obama signed the Mental Health First Aid Act, which provides more than 20 million dollars of grants to promote Mental Health First Aid training programs around the country.  This act was passed to help teachers, educational staff and other citizens recognize the signs of mental health disorders and locate appropriate care for […]

What’s Your Definition of Recovery Applied to Mental Health?

The concept of recovery for individuals with mental health conditions is different than what we understand to be the standard doctor’s definition.   The generic definition of recovery is ‘a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.’ Have we considered a form or recovery that involves more than taking a pill or wearing […]

Overcoming Stigma in the Workplace

stop the stigma of mental illness

Individuals suffering with mental health disorders aspire to have a normal life.  They seek balance and happiness in their work, education and family life.  One of the greatest barriers to that normal aspiration is the stigma that makes it difficult for people living with mental illness to find acceptance within their communities and society as […]

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