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Palo Alto, California is located in Santa Clara County in the Silicon Valley. Although seen as a technological mecca like its sister city San Jose, Palo Alto has a population that is less than 10% of San Jose’s. Many of the 66,000 people1 that call Palo Alto home do so because several major company headquarters are located within the city limits. The city, founded by Leland Stanford, includes parts of Stanford University’s campus and is recognized as one of the most intellectual and affluent cities in the United States.

Mental Health Statistics
Palo Alto mental health statistics are included in the general data for Santa Clara County. In the year 2000, 5.4% of all adult county residents had a serious mental illness and 6.8% of all young people living in the county had a serious emotional disturbance, according to the California Health and Human Services Agency2. Nearly 3,200 area residents were admitted to hospitals or other facilities for psychiatric evaluations during the years of 2008 and 20093.

Creating a Safety Net for Those with Mental Health Needs
Palo Alto’s Office of Human Services offers a variety of services to all residents of the city. One of the many services provided is Project Safety Net (PSN), which is dedicated to suicide prevention. This critical element of the Office of Human Services is made up of mental health professionals, nonprofit organizations, city officials, staff members, educators, parents, and others. In an effort to improve access to mental health services and reduce life-threatening behaviors, PSN focuses on early intervention and prevention4.

Palo Alto falls under the umbrella of services offered by Santa Clara County, including its telephonic non-emergency hotline, 211. Sponsored by the United Way of Silicon Valley, 211 Santa Clara County allows individuals to receive support and information about resources any time of day or night, every day of the year. This service is available in more than 150 different languages and is completely confidential5. 211 Santa Clara is also affiliated with the Emergency Services department and helps direct residents in times of disaster.

In addition, the county’s Family & Children Services Department (FCS)6 provides numerous resources to residents and works to ensure that all citizens have access to quality services. Child and family therapy, school site therapy, play therapy, and violence reduction efforts are among the many different resources available. At-risk families are targeted for early intervention, and members of these families may benefit from the communication, life skills, and parenting classes offered through the FCS.

Specialized programs have been designed to meet the needs of minority groups, including LGBTQ, veterans, foster children, incarcerated citizens, the elderly, and those from low-income families. Violence is another area that FCS strives to address. Through education and collaboration, the FCS empowers families, teens, and adults so that they can overcome their mental health issues and transform their behaviors. Palo Alto works closely with the resources, organizations, and professionals aligned with the FCS to help all its residents receive the quality mental health services they need.

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2012). State & County QuickFacts, Palo Alto, California. Retrieved from

2 California Health and Human Services Agency, Department of Mental Health. (2004). Original Prevalence Data Based on the 2000 Census Estimates of Prevalence of Persons with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) and Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Santa Clara County. Retrieved from

3 California Health and Human Services Agency, Department of Mental Health. (2011). Adult 72-hour evaluations and treatments by county fiscal year 2008-2009. Retrieved from

4 City of Palo Alto. (2013). Family resources page. Retrieved from

5 211 Santa Clara County. (2013). About 211 Santa Clara County. Retrieved from

6 Family and Children Services. (2013). Our services. Retrieved from