World Mental Health Day

October 8, 2020

A Message from Palo Alto University President Maureen O'Connor

This year’s World Mental Health Day arrives amid a global pandemic that brings unprecedented challenges to individuals, families, and our communities. In our own California community, the fallout of COVID-19 is compounded by the devastating impact of the state’s wildfires. People see injustice and inequity and fear for their health and safety, their children's education, their economic well-being, their homes and their future.

A Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll conducted this summer found that 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted and, according to the World Health Organization, the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase, not only in the coming months but for many years to come. Never before has it been more important to advocate for accessible mental health care for all. 

As a community dedicated to addressing the pressing and emerging issues in the fields of psychology and counseling, our work at Palo Alto University could not be more important. Our faculty, students and alumni are making important contributions to meeting the mental health needs of today’s diverse society.

At the forefront of research, training and clinical practice, our faculty are leading important research efforts such as reducing mental health disparities through advances in digital interventions, advancing culturally responsive suicide prevention efforts, addressing the special mental health needs of immigrants, and improving mental health services for the elderly, veterans and youth. Our students, the next generation of mental health professionals, are engaged in important research and serve our communities around the country at practicum and internship sites as they prepare to become confident, competent, compassionate professionals who will make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. As a result, our committed network of alumni is putting their mark on the field of psychology and counseling as professionals, leaders, researchers, educators and changemakers.

And so, on World Mental Health Day 2020, I hope that with this crisis comes the awareness and necessary action to support and expand services, professional training and research so that quality mental health services are made accessible to the people who need it.

Maureen O’Connor Ph.D., J.D.
Palo Alto University