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

Social Anxiety and College: How to Cope This Semester

By Samantha Glosser

College is a stressful time for most students and it can quite often seem too difficult to cope with the pressures commonly found on college campuses. For someone with social anxiety, a disorder characterized by persistent fear of negative evaluation by others in social situations, this reality is all too real. They are faced with public speaking, graded class participation, and the anxiety of interacting with other students in clubs, organizations, and even at parties. And don’t forget the terror of meeting your new roommate! Being completely emerged in these situations makes it easy to feel like your social anxiety is inhibiting you in all aspects of your college life; however, this does not need to be the case.

There are plenty of things you can do to treat your social anxiety before it gets in the way of your college experience. For some, self-help techniques are useful. Participating in deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk are such techniques. Deep breathing helps to alleviate some of the physical symptoms of social anxiety, while positive self-talk can lessen the effect that anxiety has on negative thoughts. However, others benefit from psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, or medications (antidepressants) targeted for social anxiety. This treatment plan typically includes exposure therapy, which gradually places you in anxiety-provoking situations while simultaneously teaching you relaxation skills to cope with your anxiety. It can help you to understand the irrational basis of your worries. A combination of psychotherapy, medication, and at home self-help strategies are an effective way to prevent your social anxiety from taking over your college experience.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from social anxiety disorder, 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