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San Diego, California, is one of the largest cities in the state, with a population of over 1.3 million citizens. Located on the border of Mexico, the city has an ethnically diverse population. According to the 2010 Census, nearly 30% ofcitizens are Latino or Hispanicand 16% are Asian1, adding to the cultural diversity of the city. Despite the fact that San Diego has one of the highest numbers of homeless residents, many of whom are veterans, the city has been ranked as one of the best places to live in the United States.

Home to the world famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, the city also provides members of the University of California, San Diego a place to call home. With thriving business and educational resources, the cityremains at the forefront of community and social service programs.

Mental Health Statistics
Rates of mental illness and emotional disturbance in San Diego are on par with state and national averages. In 2000, 7.4% of people under the age 18 had a serious emotional disturbance, and 6% of adults had a serious mental illness2, according to data published by the California Health and Human Services Agency for San Diego County. In addition, more than 10,000county residents were admitted for a 72-hour psychiatric hold or evaluation in 2008 and 20093. Illicit drug use in the San Diego-San Marcos-Carlsbad metropolitan area is approximately 15%, and just over 11% of citizens in the region have a substance use problem, which is slightly more than national or state averages. However, the rate of depression in the same area is less than 5%, a figure that is lower than the national rate of major depression4.

Focusing on Resources for Mental Health
San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is made up of six departments, and each caters to meet the needs of a different segment of the population: Children’s Mental Health Services, Aging and Independence Services, Public Health Services, Child Welfare Services, Alcohol and Drug Services, and Adult and Older Adult Mental Health Services. Through intervention, prevention, and treatment programs, the agency promotes well-being and recovery to all area residents5. The HHSA developed a destigmatizing campaign called It’s Up to Us that aims to empower area residents to speak up about mental illness, access mental health resources, recognize symptoms, and provide support to those afflicted.

Innovative measures have been taken to ensure San Diego continues to reach every citizen in need. Through an integrated countywide delivery system, Live Well San Diego ensures that all mental health workers, such as nurses, social workers, and welfare specialists, work together to ensure that every resident has equal access to quality mental health care.For San Diego area residents, clinical settings are not restricted to county facilities, but include home visits, public health centers, and family resource organizations.

In addition, the Behavioral Health Services Division focuses on providing continuing care and resources for all citizens of San Diego County. The division aims to reach all children, youth, adults, elderly, and families by practicing the county’s Live Well San Diego mission in everything it does.

1 U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2012). State & County QuickFacts, San Diego, 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) San Diego 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 SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2012). National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2005 and 2006 to 2010. Substance Use and Mental Disorders in the San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos MSA. Retrieved from

5 County of San Diego. (2013). Behavioral Health Services. Retrieved from