Our Latest Blogs

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

Racing_at_Arlington_Park

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 […]

Teen Suicide: What One Mother Is Doing to Stop It from Happening to Someone Else’s Kid

woman in orange on floor

  For the last twenty minutes I have been struggling with the question of how to open this post on teenage suicide.  It seems that there is just no easy way start. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States (7th for males).  Chances […]

ClearView Communities in Frederick, MD: Latest Addition to RtoR’s Directory of “Family Endorsed” Mental Health Providers

clearview residential building

One of the most frequent questions from families of a loved one with serious mental illness is ‘Where will my son/daughter/sibling live, and how will he or she obtain the support and develop the skills to have a decent quality of life in the least restrictive setting possible. Fortunately, the days of long-term institutionalization are […]

The Problem With Anonymity: Nobody Knows You’re There

Anonymous-People-Movie

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 […]

Three Little Known Facts About Persistence

typewriter close up

       .       Rtor.org is pleased to have disability advocate Michael De Rosa guest blogging on the site today. Michael is editor of the website dismantlingdisABILITIES.com and author of the soon to be published self-help workbook “Unlimited Potential: empowerment tools at your finger tips.” His lived experience with anxiety and other disabilities, […]

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 […]

The Way Back from Mental Illness: 6 Reasons Why You Should Tell Your Story of Hope and Recovery

what's your story

“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” – Isak Dinesen Storytelling is one of the oldest art forms practiced by humans. Stories entertain and teach. They reflect on experience and create community. Stories about recovery also have the power to heal. What is a Story of Hope and Recovery? Recovery in […]

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

handcuffs

  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. […]

Five Mental Health Resolutions for Families Affected by Mental Illness

fire works

  Most New Year’s Resolutions focus on self-improvement: lose weight, quit smoking, be more organized and exercise – all great goals for the coming year. But when it comes to mental health, your own gains can also be of benefit to others. In the spirit of improved living for everybody in the New Year, here are […]

Tis The Season: The Mental Health Benefits of Holiday Giving

holiday presents

Hanukkah started more than a week ago.  Kwanzaa is another two days away, the Prophet’s Birthday is even further off, today is Christmas Eve and I still have five more gifts to buy and three more charitable donations to make before I complete my holiday giving list (not to mention a blog post to write […]

When Parents Reach Their Limits: Recruiting Parent Supporters to Help Manage Children’s Mental Health Issues in the Home

mom and teen fight

As the holidays approach and cold weather sets in, my mind drifts back to an amazing gift my wife and I received from a friend in the middle of last summer.  I’ll call it the gift of parenting support. That may not sound like much, but to my wife and me, struggling to raise a […]

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 […]

Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First: Family Coping Strategies at the Laurel House Family Seminar Series

oxygen mask

Last Thursday, families, friends and agency staff met at Laurel House to hear Licensed Clinical Social Worker Stephanie Raia speak on Family Coping Strategies in the fourth and final installment of the Family Seminar Series. Stephanie opened her talk with two great quotes: the Serenity Prayer, which many of us associate with Alcoholics Anonymous, and […]

Managing the Negative Emotions of a Mental Health Crisis in the Family: A View from Both Sides of the Firing Line

sad man hands over eyes

Last week I was speaking with a colleague in mental health about a recent psychiatric crisis with a member of my family.  We both agreed that in such situations, it’s important for families to have a trusted professional (or team of professionals) to turn to for help. My colleague stated that the crisis clinician’s job […]

Supportive Parenting for Childhood Anxiety: Working Together Helps Relieve the Stress of a Difficult Situation

Two weeks ago my wife and I attended a talk by Dr. Eli Lebowitz of the Yale Child Study Center, as part of Laurel House’s Family Seminar Series.  Dr. Lebowitz is an expert on childhood and adolescent anxiety, and co-founder of the Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions (SPACE) program. One of the most powerful […]

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 […]

Yale Expert on Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety to Speak at Laurel House on Thursday: Eli Lebowitz, PhD, Next Up in Laurel House’s Family Seminar Series

This Thursday night in Stamford, CT, our affiliate organization Laurel House is hosting a talk on childhood and adolescent anxiety by Eli Lebowitz, PhD, of the Yale Child Study Center.  Dr. Lebowitz is co-author of the book “Treating Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Caregivers” and originator of the Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions […]

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 […]

Competence: The Most Important Quality in a Mental Health Provider

BIPOC support group

In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Johns Hopkins professor of psychiatry Kay Redfield Jamison cited “competence” as the single most important factor in treating bipolar disorder, a condition which she lives with. Jamison, a clinical psychologist, is the recipient of multiple international awards and the author of the books An Unquiet […]

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 […]

When Anxiety Rules the Household: A Family Approach to a Family Problem

spider and web

After posting on the parental ‘protection trap’ for childhood anxiety in yesterday’s blog, I came across this opinion piece by Eli Lebowitz of the Yale Child Study Center: Terrified Tyrants Eli is an expert on childhood anxiety and author of the book referenced in yesterday’s blog post, Treating Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Caregivers. In […]

Avoiding the ‘Protection Trap’ in Children with Anxiety: Guidance and Support for Parents Raising Kids with Anxiety Disorders

Night Time Anxiety

A new study at Arizona State University shows that parents of children with anxiety disorders often fall into a “protection trap” that can perpetuate the problem: Parents of Anxious Children Can Avoid the ‘Protection Trap’ Parents may fall into the protection trap in three ways: responding to a scared child’s fears and worries with positive attention […]

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 […]

Off to College: A Mental Health Checklist for Parents of First-Year Students

It’s mid-August and that time of year again.  Having just dropped off my first-born at college a mere ten days ago, the off-to-school drill for first-year students is fresh in mind: Tuition paid, insurance waiver and other paperwork filed New clothes, laptop, mini fridge, school supplies, etc Figure out transportation options while away at school […]

A Father’s Grief at the Loss of an Iconic Actor: In Memory of Robin Williams’ Gift to All of Us

robin williams - good will hunting

  Update: Much has changed since Robin Williams’ death in 2014. New information has been released regarding the circumstances of his reported suicide. There have also been changes in the family situation Jay describes in the post from August 13, 2014. For a happier, more positive continuation of this story, read Jay’s most recent post […]

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

brain

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 […]

School Success: Study Tip for College Students with Mental Health Disabilities

student taking notes

In my other role as Vice President of Laurel House, Inc., in Stamford, CT, I direct a program called Thinking Well.  People with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, although of average or above average intelligence, will score below 85% of the general population on standardized cognitive tests.   The Thinking Well program addresses this […]

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

Ptsd-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

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 […]

ER Visits by Children in Crisis on the Rise in Connecticut

ED ambulance no entry

Pediatric emergency room visits have increased as much 15 percent in Connecticut in the last year, and some hospital officials are attributing the spike to a lack of resources for children with mental health problems, according to the recent article, “Long ER Stays for Kids in Crisis on the Rise” published on greenwichtime.com. During the course […]

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

brain

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

newspaper

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 […]

Eunoia: Thoughts on Healthy Thinking

debi strong power of thoughts

EUNOIA [yoo-noy-uh].  This little known word comes from the Greek εὔνοια, meaning “well mind” or “beautiful thinking.” It is also a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health.   Think of it as the opposite of paranoia, with which it rhymes.  In its original sense, the Greek philosopher Aristotle used the […]

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 […]

Stay Up to Date

Fill out the form to get Close to Home in your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.