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The Mental Health Connection - September 2023

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

As Autumn approaches and children eagerly return to school activities, forming new friendships and embracing new experiences, engaging in conversations with them about non-traditional families is a timely opportunity. Equipping children with an understanding of diverse family structures and fostering acceptance will better prepare them for encounters with peers from non-traditional families. For insights on how to broach this important subject, read Embracing Family Diversity: Teaching Children About Non-Traditional Families further down in this newsletter.

But before delving into this crucial discussion, let's celebrate the joys of Fall with two Fall favorites—pumpkin and butternut squash. This month’s tip revolves around food. Treat your friends and family with homemade pumpkin soup and butternut squash risotto (recipes included). The season brings not only change but also warmth and togetherness. Enjoy!

Annette Conway, PsyD

CEO and President

Help Therapy

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Recovery Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Suicide Prevention Awareness Month serves as a focused time for us to unite with determination in addressing the critical issue of suicide prevention. Engaging in open and honest conversations about mental health and suicide is essential, as a single conversation can make a life-changing difference. If someone you know is in a mental health crisis, encourage them to call or text 988 or chat at Recovery Month Recovery Month acknowledges and celebrates the progress of individuals in addiction recovery. This observance emphasizes the crucial role of behavioral health in overall well-being, underscores the effectiveness of prevention and treatment and highlights that people can successfully recover from behavioral health challenges such as addiction. National Hispanic Heritage Month Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Hispanic Americans who have inspired others. It’s recognized nationwide with festivals, art exhibitions, conferences and community get-togethers. This month-long celebration also commemorates the independence days of several Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on September 15th, Mexico on September 16th, and Chile on September 18th.

Medicare Coverage for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists Good news for LMFTs. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, a major piece of legislation, is a large year-end legislative package that funds the government for Fiscal Year 2023. As part of this funding, Congress mandated that Medicare will start covering and paying for the services provided by Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Mental Health Counselors (MHCs) starting January 1, 2024. These mental healthcare providers must enroll in Medicare to bill for their services. The payment rate for MFTs and MHCs will be 75% of the amount determined for psychologists to receive for their services. The services these professionals provide will also be included in the definition of visits for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). For billing purposes, MFTs and MHCs can use code G0323 and general behavioral health integration services, and they will be added as billing clinicians under this code. It's important to note that outpatient mental health services cannot be billed if a patient is an inpatient under Part A admission.

Embracing Family Diversity: Teaching Children About Non-Traditional Families In the ever-evolving tapestry of our society, families are as diverse as the individuals who comprise them. They take on countless forms, often defying traditional norms and expectations. Some families start as nuclear units but transform over time, while others embrace non-traditional structures from the beginning. How a particular family is constructed may not be immediately apparent, but children must understand that these diverse family structures are all equally valid. Uninformed children (as well as adults) may make comments about a family or family members that are not deliberately intended to be offensive but can still be hurtful to the family members. Discussing different family structures with children is an important and educational conversation and can help them avoid using assumptive or inappropriate language. Of course, first, parents and teachers must educate themselves to help children become knowledgeable about nontraditional families. Then, start the conversation with children at an early age. Young children are generally more open and accepting of differences. How to Talk about Diverse Family Structures with Children

  • Below are some tools and suggestions for parents and teachers talking about non-traditional family structures with children:

  • Use Visual Aids: Visual aids such as drawings, diagrams, or family trees can help children visualize different family structures and relationships.

  • Use Age-Appropriate Language: Tailor your language to the child's age and comprehension level.

  • Share Personal Stories: If appropriate, share personal stories or anecdotes about your own experiences with diverse families or friendships. This can help children relate to the topic on a more personal level.


San Diego County Council on Aging (SDCCOA) Annual Resources Fair Learn about elder scams, critical Medi-cal changes and more. Friday, September 22 9 AM TO 12 PM St. Paul’s Conference Center Find out more here.

Southern Caregiver Resources Center (SCRC) SCRC is a non-profit organization helping caregivers caring for loved ones with chronic or disabling conditions with free resources and support. Find out more here.


Help Therapy has now partnered with Paubox for secure email communication. If you're interested in using Paubox for your practice, sign up using our referral link to receive a $250 credit:

Partner with us. Are you a psychologist, LCSW, LMFT or NP? We’re always looking for exceptional mental healthcare providers. Visit for more information and fill out the quick and easy application.


Suicide Prevention Week September 10-16, 2023 See NSPW for more information. National Assisted Living Week September 10-16, 2023 See NALW for more information. SDCCOA Resources Fair September 22, 2023 Find out more here. Enjoy the Fall Season with these 2 Yummy Dishes

Pumpkin Soup


  • 2 cups pumpkin puree

  • 1 chopped onion

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • 1 medium chopped carrot

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Olive oil for cooking onion and garlic

  • 1/2 cup milk or milk substitute


  • In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until they become translucent.

  • Add the chopped carrot, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

  • Use an immersion blender or regular blender to puree the soup until smooth.

  • Stir in the milk or milk substitute for a creamy texture.

  • Serve hot.

Butternut Squash Risotto: Ingredients:

  • 1 small peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash

  • 2 cups Arborio rice

  • 6 cups warm vegetable broth

  • 1 chopped small onion

  • 2 cloves minced garlic

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh sage leaves for garnish (optional)


  • Heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until translucent.

  • Stir in the Arborio rice and cook for 2-3 minutes until it becomes slightly translucent.

  • Pour in the white wine and cook until it's mostly absorbed.

  • Add the warm vegetable broth, one ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding more. Continue this process until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente (about 18-20 minutes).

  • In a separate pan, sauté the diced butternut squash until tender and slightly caramelized.

  • Stir the cooked butternut squash, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper into the risotto.

  • Garnish with fresh sage leaves if desired, and serve.

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