Anxiety, Depression, Eating Disorders, ADHD, Et al: How to Support a Friend with Mental Illness

By: Sarah Cohen

When helping a friend with a mental illness, the first step should be assessment of their symptoms. Sometimes they just might be going through a difficult time, but if certain common symptoms associated with mental health issues persist it is imperative to respond sensitively. Majority of the time, friends will just want to know they have your support and that you care about them. A good way to show your support is by talking to them. If you provide a non-judgmental space for them to speak about their issues it will help encourage them to be open with their problems. Let them lead the conversation and don’t pressure them to reveal information. It can be incredibly difficult and painful to speak about these issues and they might not be ready to share everything. If you aren’t their therapist do not diagnose them or make assumptions about how they are feeling, just listen and show you understand. If someone doesn’t want to speak with you, don’t take it personally, just continue to show them you care about their wellbeing and want to help as much as possible. Just knowing they have support can give them the strength they need to contact someone who can help them.

If a friend is having a crisis, such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, you must stay calm. Try not to overwhelm them by asking a lot of questions and confronting them in a public setting. Ask them gently what would be helpful to them right now or reassure them. If they hurt themselves, get first aid as soon as possible. If someone is suicidal, contact the suicide hotline at 800-237-8255 immediately.

The best way to help someone is by connecting them to professional help. By expressing your concern and support you can show them that they can get help and their mental health problems can be treated.

If you or someone you know needs support with their mental illness, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit

ADHD in Teens: Why Adult Support is Essential

By Stephanie Osuba

Common symptoms of ADHD lead people to believe that students that have been diagnosed willingly choose to not complete assignments or be inattentive during class. However, symptoms like forgetfulness, procrastination, distractibility, poor time management, and having a difficult time writing are exactly what prohibits a student from achieving academic success. By definition, these teens cannot manage their time on their own, not even with all the motivation in the world. And although these students want to be treated normally, it is important to intervene in order to teach them how to manage their ADHD and their lives.

Wanting to be “normal” often prevents these students from seeking the help that they need with assignments and time management. While school counselors mean well with their open office doors, it’s important to recognize when a student with ADHD is falling behind. The student, even if a need for help is stated, will often not follow through with appointments due to the lack of executive control and interfering symptoms like distractibility and impulsivity. Setting up a comprehensive academic plan with the teen takes the efforts of parents and teachers who constantly check in to make sure he or she is on track. How you can support a student with ADHD:

  • Promote independence: the end goal is to have the teen be able to keep track of assignments, organize himself, be able to take notes, study well, and mange his time by being able to break down projects. Have the student come up with his own plan for the school year and check in if it seems off base. Once a well-oiled routine is put in place, check in regularly.
  • Intervene early: always prompt students to solve academic problems immediately. It’s better to catch small mistakes and setbacks early on than to wait until they snowball out of control.
  • Provide guidance: you should aim to collaborate with the teen in finding solutions to any problem that arises, however, most need direct instruction at first. They need to be shown exactly what the outcome needs to be before they can decide on the best way to arrive at the desired solution.
  • Take the lead: students should be under adult supervision at all times. At school, it’d be teachers and counselors and at home it’s their parents or guardians.
  • Gradually withdraw supports: adult supervision shouldn’t be completely withdrawn until the student proves capable. Symptoms can cause poor executive function well through college because it largely interferes with academic skills no matter their age.

Source: M.D., M. B. (2018, September 24). The Pivotal Role of Adults in Teen ADHD Care. Retrieved from 

If you or someone you know is struggling with ADHD, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit