Author Archives: William Van Ornum, Ph.D.

Teens, Gambling, and Mental Health

Researchers estimate that between one and three percent of adults in the United States have a gambling problem. We at AMHF believe there is a need to give more attention to this. How many marriages or families are ruined due to addictive or compulsive gambling? Our society certainly mixes messages to teens: everything from rub-off […]

Kudos to the National Association of the Dually Diagnosed (NADD)

There is an especially fine organization to help persons who, in addition to developmental disabilities, also have a psychiatric diagnosis from the DSM IV-TR. Some examples of dually diagnosed persons would be a Down syndrome person that is also diagnosed with major depression, a mildly retarded person that is also diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or […]

Since Grandma Died, Grandpa Has a Severe Phobia about Falling Asleep

For almost all of us, phobias are unwelcome visitors as we age. One researcher even calls them “the silent geriatric giant.” How common are these anxiety disorders later in life? Another researcher estimates that the prevalence for phobias in old age is 5 to 6 percent of the population. The number, however, doesn’t tell how […]

Marriage and Mental Health

Wouldn’t it be great to raise the stock market and lower the divorce rate in America? At present, stocks have lost around 50 percent of their value, and the permanence and stability of nearly 50 percent of marriages is lost to divorce. Many faith-based institutions are working to counter this trend. Many require prospective couples […]

A Wonderful Place: The Astor Home for Children

For over 55 years, the Astor Home for Children has been providing topnotch care for children and families, both in New York City and Upstate New York communities. It is sponsored by the

Speech Therapists and Mental Health

Speech and language pathologists and audiologists are a profession that often works with people who have mental conditions: problems in communication can in themselves cause mental-health problems, or can magnify those already present. The goals of speech and language pathologists are to advocate on behalf of persons with communications and other disorders, advance communication science, […]

The American Group Therapy Association and AMHF

The American Mental Health Foundation (AMHF) has and continues to support all effective models of group therapy. It was the wish of our long-time executive director, Dr. Stefan de Schill, that this mission be carried out and that his own pioneering work in this modality be further developed and made available to those who need […]

Simple Phobias

Afraid of spiders and snakes? A continuing goal of the AMHF is to continue to bring to everyone’s awareness difficulties that may rob us of happiness. New therapies continue to be developed and older ones improved. There is, indeed, cause for hope. In the words of our long-time director, Dr. Stefan de Schill, exiles from […]

Finally, Parity for Mental Illness

After many legislative proposals and actions since at least 1996, the US House of Representatives finally passed a Mental Health Parity Bill. This will be good news for the 35 million Americans who experience mental illness and emotional problems, and for whom our foundation is dedicated. Please see the New York Times, March 6, 2009. […]

Therapists Working with Babies

Have you ever been summoned by a baby who is crying in another room? If you have, here is a book for you. Natalie Angier, winner of a Pulitzer Prize as a New York Times science beat writer, has hit another home run in her column of March 3, 2009, wherein she offers reflections on […]

Dealing with Depression

There is a handy paperback to help those with depression: Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns. It is not the typical self-help book in that it is based on cognitive therapy research. There are many types of charts and plans that can be done as the book is read. All of these are intended to […]

Special Needs Children in Harder Economic Times

Parents of special-needs children know this, but others might not. Viz., there is a continuum of care and interventions for special-needs children. During the past 32 years, since the enactment of Public Law 94-142 (PL 94-142), different programs of different intensities (and expense) change, depending on the political or economic climate of the times. For […]

Genetic Research and Mental Health

The New York Times recently reported on cutting-edge research with direct implications for mental health. Genetic researchers discovered a variety of gene mutations in the genes affecting the enzymes produced by the liver: chemicals that are the first step in changing psychiatric drugs into other chemicals that can then influence the brain. (The variety of […]

Aging Well!

There is a great book that has been out several years now: Aging Well by Dr. George Vailland. He is a psychiatrist and long-time researcher. Vailland studied three different groups from radically different backgrounds, levels of IQ, and income. He sought to find the best predictor of aging well. It was not cholesterol. It was […]

Watch out for Dual Roles

Lately in the media there has been great attention toward physicians who do research and also have a financial interest in a drug company or receive benefits from a drug company. At least one profession cautions against such “dual roles.” The primary and over-riding loyalty of mental health clinicians is to their clients. although there […]

The Psychology of Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Holiday it’s great to know that mental health professionals are more and more emphasizing GRATITUDE in their therapies and publications. Just one example is Martin Seligman’s book on POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY. While insight about the past can be helpful for some, an attitude of appreciation for life in the here-and-now is a good […]

Preschool Intervention

Now that preschool classes are under full swing, there may be some parents who wonder if their own child is keeping up with milestones. A common reaction of all us may be to try to look at the bright side and call this a “stage” or something “that will be grown out of.” Yes, it […]

Learn about Down Syndrome

Here is the link for the American Down Syndrome Association: National Association of Down Syndrome

Reaching an Autistic Teenager

An excellent feature story about a young man with autism is in the Sunday New York Times for Sunday, October 19, 2008: Reaching an Autistic Teenager

American Psychological Association

The American Psychological Association, a group of over 100,000 psychologists in the U.S.A., offers helpful information for professionals as well as the public on its website: click here for APA link

The Bipolar Child

An outstanding article appeared in The New York Times Magazine on September 14, 2008: click here for bipolar children article Reading this will provide anyone with a greater understanding of bipolar children and the problems that they and their families face. There is hope for the future, as advances in psychopharmacology, genetic tests for liver […]

A graduate student’s thoughts on depression

We are very lucky that so many talented young people are choosing to devote their careers to helping other people in the mental health field. Here are some ideas on “depression” from a young woman who is studying to be a New York State Certified School Psychologist: Depression is a disorder that affects all types […]

Anna Freud, WAR AND CHILDREN, 9-11

On this day of sadness and mourning I’m thinking about a book that Anna Freud wrote during World War Two. CHILDREN AND WAR was written for the women of London who were holding down the country during the deadly German bombings. These heroic women did just about everything to keep London alive in front-line conditions. […]


I have been reading a wonderful book, DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood through Adulthood by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey. M.D. This book brings to a general trade audience wisdom gained from peer-reviewed studies and research. Unlike some books on this topic, there is no ax […]


In the latter part of the 20th century a dramatic shift occurred regarding the manner in which psychiatrists and other mental health professionals described and diagnosed psychological problems. DSM I, the first version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, was a modest size paperback handbook providing broad categories of mental health problems. It was the […]

Help for our older relatives, friends, and neighbors

In the 1990s a new specialty area emerged in psychiatry—Geriatric Psychiatry. Mental health problems in older persons can be effectively treated. In the New York City area, the Weill Cornell Medical College offers research and clinical services. To learn more about help that is available, click here.

Finding helpers to assist parents

The New York Times on Tuesday August 12th offers an article describing the problems faced by parents with special needs children when it comes to finding “sitters” or “helpers”. They even report on a national service that can match parents with caretakers. When one imagines the difficulty encountered just in finding a sitter for a […]

Individual Therapy with Aggressive Children

Dr. David Crenshaw is one of the leading experts on psychotherapy with children and we are grateful to him for writing this for our blog: Aggressive Children have too many Tears Buried Inside David Crenshaw, Ph.D., ABPP The profound losses of those born and raised in extreme poverty; urban youth who grow up in dangerous […]

Licensure as Psychoanalyst in New York State

Several years ago New York State added new mental health positions that are licensable in New York State. Among these were licenses in psychoanalysis, mental health counseling, and marriage and family counseling. All of these require the minimum of a master’s degree and certain kinds of supervised experience. Previously the major licensed/certified positions were for […]

Depression, Narcissism, and Dr. Karasu

The article about Dr. Karasu about the Very Rich in psychotherapy noted that young persons born into Very Wealthy families “are so often narcissistic in a way that excludes depression.” This made me stop to think about the many people from history where we think there is suggestion of depression or some kind of mental […]

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