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Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.
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Michael Friedman has worked in the field of mental health for over 45 years as a direct service provider, an administrator, a government official, an advocate, and as an educator.

He has served on numerous advocacy and public advisory groups including, among many others, the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance (which he founded in 2004), the Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC (which he co-founded in 2009) and, currently, the Advisory Committee to the NYC Commissioner of Health.

He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University School of Social Work, where he teaches mental health policy.

He is the author of numerous publications, most of which are posted at

Entries by Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W.

Why I'm Really Not Sure I Want To Live To 100

(5) Comments | Posted February 15, 2016 | 5:24 AM

When I tell people that my mother is 100-years-old, they typically say, "Isn't that wonderful!" as if being very, very old is good in and of itself. And they usually add that I "have good genes" -- meaning that, happily, I too will probably live to be very, very old.

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Noteworthy Deaths: What About Everyone Else?

(2) Comments | Posted January 17, 2016 | 8:32 AM

I recently came across an article about the "noteworthy" people who died last year. It was just one of many such articles that appear in memory of the past year and in hopes of a better New Year. But it suddenly struck me that all these lists imply that everyone...

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Violence and Mental Illness: Suicide, Not Homicide, Is the Major Problem

(8) Comments | Posted November 12, 2015 | 1:46 PM

This post is co-authored by Paul Nestadt, M.D.

The major problem of violence among people with serious mental illness is not that they kill other people but that they kill themselves.

In 2013 there were about 16,000 homicides in the United States (1), of which perhaps 5 percent (800)...

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Are You Older And Drinking Too Much?

(15) Comments | Posted April 27, 2015 | 7:07 AM

Co-authored with Nicole MacFarland, Ph.D

Excessive drinking can be a problem for older adults. The most common estimate is that a bit over 15 percent of older adults drink more than is advisable. Unfortunately, the drinking problems of older adults often go unnoticed because usually...

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Being Great In Old Age

(2) Comments | Posted March 16, 2015 | 4:37 PM

Recently, a friend sent me a list of people who did great things when they were old. It was a friendly gesture, meant to support my belief that it is possible to age "successfully." The list included Bizet, Cervantes, Cezanne, Churchill, El Greco, Rembrandt and Tennyson. Quite a group! Might...

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Not Such A Grumpy Old Man After All: A Review of Donald Hall's Essays After Eighty

(0) Comments | Posted February 2, 2015 | 1:58 PM

Lately, my writing about old age has been on the cheerful side. Not surprising, since I've been writing about successful aging and not about unsuccessful aging. Still, some people I know who are in their 80s or 90s have been saying to me, "Just you wait." I've begun to worry...

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We Are Not Ready, But We Could Be: On Gawande's 'Being Mortal'

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 1:53 PM

About a quarter of the way through Atul Gawande's wonderful, disturbing, but ultimately hopeful new book, Being Mortal, I said to my wife "We've got to talk!" I had become convinced that we are not ready for death or, more precisely, for the long period of declining capabilities...

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Improving the American Mental Health System Requires Accurate History

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2014 | 11:25 AM

This post is co-authored by Sherry A. Glied and Michael B. Friedman.

Allen Frances (The Huffington Post August 7, 2014) claims that the American mental health system is worse now than ever before. He and other critics who share this view are wrong. Today's system is undoubtedly inadequate...

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Successful Aging: The Challenge of Regret and Guilt

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 12:47 PM

This is the second in a series of essays on the psychology of successful aging. Click here for the first.

Pride in the past is an essential element of successful aging. Robert Frost captures this well in "The Death of the Hired Man," a poem in which an...

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Successful Aging, Fortunately, Is Largely Subjective

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 6:16 PM

Some years ago, shortly after I signed up for Medicare and Medigap, a nurse from the insurance company that provides my Medigap plan called to talk with me about my health. I told her about my chronic conditions -- diabetes, high blood pressure, minor heart disease, an enlarged prostate for...

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Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility in New York State

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 5:22 PM

This post was co-authored by Paige Pierce, Executive Director of Families Together in NYS

Despite its progressive reputation, New York remains one of only two states in the nation that continues to automatically arrest and prosecute 16 year olds as adults. It's an archaic system, proven to...

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Be on the Lookout for Elder Abuse

(1) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 11:13 AM

This post is co-authored by Michael Friedman, L.M.S.W., Joy Solomon, Esq. and Malya Kurzweil Levin, Esq. Joy Solomon is the Director and Managing Attorney and Malya Kurzweil Levin is Staff Attorney for The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in NYC.

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Bet on the Future?

(0) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 4:49 PM

Before he died, my uncle and I got together frequently for lunch. We always began our conversations by talking about how we were doing financially. He had become quite wealthy by investing in telecommunications stocks shortly after World War II. My wife and I -- both social workers -- were...

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Grudge Match is Disappointing

(0) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 4:15 PM

I had been looking forward to Grudge Match ever since I saw the coming attraction for it a couple of months ago. Starring Sylvester Stallone (now 67) and Robert De Niro (now 70), it promised to be Rocky vs. Raging Bull 30 years later. It promised to be another movie...

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Better Pain Management Is Essential for Reducing Addiction to Prescription Painkillers

(2) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 10:06 AM

Lately, the NYC Department of Health has been running ads on TV about the risks and sadness of addiction to prescription painkillers. They are good ads with an important message. "Prescription drugs destroyed my family," a mother says with great sadness. The message -- prescription painkillers...

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Is Stress Most People's Friend? A Response to Kelly McGonigal

(9) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 8:00 AM

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

Once I got serious about my career, I became a very hard worker. My ordinary workweek was 65 to 70 hours. When things got difficult, I worked more. From time to time, I took vacations and,...

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How 'Last Vegas' Convinced Me There's Life After 70

(1) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 6:21 AM

I have been looking forward to seeing Last Vegas since I saw the trailer for it as a coming attraction at RED 2--a wonderful movie about old spies who are "retired", and "extremely dangerous". Old farts like me having a bachelor party in Vegas with lots of buxom...

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Why I'm Still Trying To Figure Out What I Want To Be When i Grow Up

(3) Comments | Posted November 12, 2013 | 6:02 AM

Early in my career, from which I am now retired, I was the assistant to a man who was a major figure in our field. When he hired me, I was about 35; he was about 60. One day I sat in when he was interviewed by a man even...

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Want to Feel Good About Being Old? See Red 2

(1) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 6:51 PM

A few months ago in an occupational therapy group where I was learning how to walk after surgery to remove a tumor from inside my spine, we chatted while exercising with very, very, very light weights. I was asked what my favorite movie is. Bergman's films immediately came to mind...

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Depressed? Treatment Not Working? Be Careful What You Do Next

(13) Comments | Posted August 6, 2013 | 6:37 PM

If you are taking an anti-depressant but are still depressed, the ad says, ask your doctor about adding Abilify (originally approved as an anti-psychotic medication). This is, at best, misleading medical advice. It implies (even if it doesn't say it directly) that adding Abilify should be the first course of...

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