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Help Therapy Newsletter - March 2022

The Mental Health Connection

There are three things we are incredibly excited about this month:

1. The CICAMH Conference

2. Our efforts in reaching people outside the San Diego area

3. San Diego Best Poll Nominations

First, if you haven’t already, be sure to register for The 7th Annual Critical Issues in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Conference (CICAMH), held in person and virtually March 11, 2022, in San Diego.

This year's focus will be mental health issues involving children and adolescents in the pandemic era—with particular emphasis on special needs children. Come visit us at our booth! You can register to participate in person or virtually for the event here.

Second, our network of practitioners inside and outside the San Diego area continues to grow. We’ve added 13 new mental health professionals in February to help people not only in California but in Arizona, Texas and Washington as well. A list of these new provider partners is further down in this newsletter.

Third, it’s time to cast your votes. The San Diego Best Poll is out. Last year we placed 2nd in San Diego’s Best Company for “In-Home Non-Medical.” This year we’re pushing for 1st! You can help us achieve this goal by casting your votes here.

Thanks in advance for voting for us, and we look forward to seeing you at CICAMH!

Annette Conway, PsyD


Help Therapy


March Focuses on Three Observances

Self-Injury Awareness Month It’s been reported that 90 percent of self-injury cases begin in adolescence. Although many believe it to be an uncommon affliction, self-injury is, unfortunately, more common than most people realize. In fact, it’s estimated that 15% of teenagers will experience some form of self-injury during this often challenging time in their lives. The three most common types of self-injury are:

  • Skin cutting

  • Headbanging

  • Skin burning

Self-injury Awareness Month is a time to recognize and understand this mental health issue and be open about treatment options for those experiencing this alienating condition. Learn more here. National Developmental Disabilities Month As reported by the CDC, about 17% of children 3 - 17 years old have one or more developmental disabilities. Yet, people with developmental disabilities still sometimes face barriers. Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) works with other organizations to create a social media campaign to promote awareness and inclusion. Learn more here. Brain Injury Awareness Month According to the Brain Injury Association, more than 3.6 million people sustain an acquired brain injury each year. What’s more, it’s estimated that at least 5.3 million Americans live with a traumatic brain injury-related disability. Many of these people feel defined by their brain injury. Each March, this campaign gives individuals a chance to see past these limiting beliefs and change how they view themselves and their lives. Learn more here.


Artificial Intelligence for Mental Healthcare

In a world where Siri recommends a Sushi restaurant, Alexa orders dog food and Google directs you to the nearest gas station, what effect will AI have for mental healthcare providers? We’ve already seen the rise in telehealth, due in part to the pandemic. As more and more people become accustomed to using various forms of technology to get what they want or need, 24/7, more AI to assist healthcare practitioners and patients are being developed.

For example, Intel has collaborated with Scripps Research Institute to develop a deep learning algorithm. This algorithm was used to identify patients with high heart disease risk undetected by traditional methods. It had an accuracy of 85%.

Other examples are Google DeepMind and IBM Watson—leaders in mining medical records. This type of healthcare AI aims to create what’s termed a “cognitive assistant.” Along with its reasoning and analytical abilities, this AI is armed with a range of clinical knowledge.

Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Internet Research (JMIR) examined the feasibility of using an AI-powered mental health chatbot. This chatbot, named Woebot, was designed to address substance use disorders.

It focuses on cravings and urges and helps individuals build self-awareness regarding their thinking patterns and moods. Woebot is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and has a tailored empathy component in the messages it sends.

Woebot gets to know the individual through quick conversations and check-ins and then suggests clinically-tested tools and approaches.

New genetic data and neuroimaging are helping to unlock the key to understanding mental health and how the brain works. With this knowledge, partnerships between industry and the academic community are needed to develop AI to address mental illness's complexity and help mental healthcare providers improve patient care.


Why We Should Limit Our News Exposure

Negative news is everywhere. We don’t even need to seek it out—it comes to us. It’s hard to avoid and can become almost addictive. And like other addictions, it can affect our mental health. Negative news can cause mental and physical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue and digestive problems. Consuming too much news can cause many people to live in a stressful state of worry, impending doom and helplessness. Some people are affected more than others. Some people are affected but don’t realize it or correlate their anxiety, depression or other mental health issues as being caused by repeated exposure to negative news. Watching negative media coverage of a traumatic event can cause some individuals to experience it as though they were there themselves. Doomsday scenarios and improbable threats perpetuated by the media, such as a black hole devouring Earth, can cause anxiety and fear in people who were unaware that a possibility (no matter how extreme) exists. Seeing, reading or hearing something in the news gives it credibility and is taken as fact. Negative news is difficult to avoid unless you don’t have a TV, radio, computer, smartphone or any other device capable of reporting the news. But of course, there are also tabloids and magazines lining the checkout lanes, full of shocking headlines. Even if you manage to avoid all these news sources, friends, family, colleagues and others are often eager to share the latest tragedy. [READ MORE]


Welcome New Help Therapy Mental Health Providers

These mental healthcare practitioners are new to our network —some in practice for over 20 years. They offer evaluations and various types of therapy, with a range of specialties, including LGBTQ+, substance abuse and parenting. They are accepting new patients and provide telehealth appointments.

Arizona Dr. Brooke DeBoy Dr. Debra Gold, PsyD Dr. Marci Haines, PsyD Dr. Maria Mendoza-Rodriguez, PSYD California

Dr. Eric Greene Dr. Darya Harrison Dr. Jamie McLaren Dr. Heather O’Neill Marsha Orman, LCSW Dr. Amber Stickerod Texas Dr. Anita Mancini-Michell, PsyD Dr. Amie Yanover, PSYD Washington Dr. Jacob Engelskirger


Featured Practitioner

Matthew Brown, LMFT

Matthew Brown is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing individual, couples and group therapy.

Matthew utilizes a client-centered approach and meets each individual with compassion and empathy. He works with diverse populations, including veterans and other trauma survivors and people with severe mental illness, depression and anxiety. He also helps those with substance dependence and individuals and families living with domestic violence (survivors and perpetrators). His training includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

Matthew is passionate about helping people achieve their personal mental health goals. He accepts teletherapy appointments and in-office appointments at his Vista, California practice.


This Month's Tip

Treating Mental Health Issues in Pregnancy

Some women experience the first onset of a mental health issue during pregnancy. Depression and anxiety during pregnancy have been associated with a variety of adverse outcomes for both the mother and her baby.

But treating mental illness with medication also has its risks.

When prescribing medications during pregnancy, the practitioner must consider the dangers associated with prenatal exposure, including the possibility of neonatal toxicity and long-term cognitive and behavioral disorders.

For women with bipolar disorder, maintenance treatment during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of relapse. However, many medications commonly used to treat bipolar disorder carry some risk when used during pregnancy. Since 2011, the FDA has required all antipsychotic drugs to include warnings regarding the use of these drugs during pregnancy.

Decisions regarding the initiation or maintenance of drug therapies during pregnancy need to consider both the risks associated with fetal exposure to a particular medication and the risks associated with untreated mental illness in the mother.



International Women’s Day

March 8, 2022

See IWD for more information.

Sleep Awareness Week

March 13-19, 2022

See NSF for more information.

World Sleep Day

March 18, 2022

See World Sleep for more information.

World Down Syndrome Day

March 18, 2022

See DSI for more information.

National Autism Awareness Week

March 29- April 3, 2022

See AAM for more information.

World Bipolar Day

March 30, 2022

See IBPF for more information.


"What you do today can change all the tomorrow's of your life.”

- Zig Ziglar


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