Self-harm. Cutting. Self-injury. These are words that you may not be familiar with or have even heard of. Hopefully you do not have any experience with them.  


Self-injury is any behavior that is done to intentionally hurt oneself. Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) specifically describes the act of causing physical pain to yourself or damage to your body without intending to die from the behavior. NSSI is frequently used as a coping mechanism during times of intolerable distress when an individual does not have other, healthier ways of coping. NSSI can take a number of different forms, such as cutting or burning one’s skin, scratching, picking at scabs, head-banging, swallowing objects, cutting off circulation to a digit. More information can be found here. 

When people do find out what these words are and what they mean, it is difficult for many people to understand why a person would engage in this behavior to intentionally hurt themselves, or how that can be a way to feel better. Yet, self-harm is actually a common behavior amongst teens and young adults. Studies show that 15-21% of teens and 17-38% of college students have engaged in NSSI. So for parents, these words can be...

The holiday season is well under way. As days quickly become packed with holiday gatherings, we talked with The Center for Eating Disorders expert Dr. Jennifer Moran about how you can be supportive of someone recovering from an eating disorder during the stressful holiday season.

What is the most important thing for a host, family member, or support person to know about eating disorder recovery during the holidays? 

One of the most challenging aspects of recovery from an eating disorder is that every major holiday and social function can feel like it is centered around food.

Typically, people in recovery are following a meal plan, which outlines when meals are supposed to be eaten and with a particular balance of foods. Sometimes at the holidays, meals take place at strange time or are served as a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. The types of foods that are served may not feel safe or may be something that the person is not sure how to incorporate into their recovery meal plan. This can all feel incredibly overwhelming and sometimes makes it difficult to stick with recovery goals.

The most important thing for people in a support role to understand is that this has great potential...

Mental Illness is complicated and there is still a lot we do not know about it. We do not know the exact cause, it is difficult to diagnose, and there is no cure. The same things can be said for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). My son Bryce is diagnosed with both mental illness and ASD. It is common for someone with autism to have co-occurring disorders. It is also common for someone with mental illness or ASD to be diagnosed with one condition and have their diagnoses change throughout their life. 

Bryce has received treatment since he was a young child. He has attended The Frost School, a nonpublic special education day school and part of the Sheppard Pratt Health System, since he was in the 4th grade. Although he will always live with mental illness and ASD, he learns to cope and manage his conditions, and with medication and treatment has made great progress.

Although Bryce is doing well, living with mental illness and ASD has its challenges. One of his symptoms includes perseverating and having difficulty with logic and reasoning. Right now, Bryce is obsessed with buying vintage video games, and gets upset and angry when he cannot get what he “needs.” A positive about this...

During October, images of Halloween pop up everywhere – advertisements for spooky costumes, lawns with decorations as we drive through our neighborhoods, haunted forests. This makes me think about fear.

As a parent of a teenager with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), bipolar disorder, ADHD, and anxiety, I have many fears. Besides the usual fears of him not fitting in and struggling in school, one of my biggest fears has always been that my son will have an unpleasant interaction with the police. Although many people may think this fear seems irrational and overblown, it is actually rational. As Bryce gets older and wants more independence, I will not always be around to protect him and know that he is safe. I cannot always guarantee that Bryce will be as stable as he is now, that he will always take his medicine, or that he will always remember his coping skills.   

Spoiler alert! This fear of mine was reflected in season two of Atypical, a current show on Netflix. The main character is out in the middle of the night alone. A police officer mistakes his coping skill (reciting penguin names to himself) as him being intoxicated. He does not respond to commands and the encounter goes...

Last week, the Berkeley and Eleanor Mann Residential Treatment Center (Mann RTC) students held their annual 'Hope not Dope' assembly. The youth shared their poems, songwriting, and artwork, which capture their recovery process and their understanding of the negative consequences of substance abuse.

Here are some of their powerful, moving pieces:


Drugs aren't just

Alcohol, pills, and weed

This knowledge is not just a want

But a need...

So close to the edge

No one can hear my scream

Yelling for help

It's like I'm stuck in a dream...

Words of an Addict

"I cheat, lie, and steal"

"Because the power of addiction is real"

"Its effects I can't conceal"

"I can't help how I feel"

"It's so hard to deal"

"I wonder if I'll ever heal..."


If you're looking for recovery

I'll lead the way

Work the steps and

You'll live to see another day...

Just for today

Focus on one thing at a time

Don't rush, getting help

Won't cost you a dime.

- Julia V.







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