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Loneliness Pandemic: Silicon Valley Sounds the Alarm

Loneliness Pandemic: Silicon Valley Sounds the Alarm

Loneliness Emergency in San Mateo


As someone who has called Palo Alto home for many years and immersed myself in the tech world as a CFO in various startups and public companies, I’ve witnessed firsthand the dynamic changes that have shaped Silicon Valley. Yet, amidst the hustle and innovation, there’s a silent epidemic that’s been steadily growing – the loneliness pandemic.

Just like the rest of the world, Silicon Valley is not immune to the far-reaching effects of loneliness, as highlighted in my partner Reed Berglund’s article last month. This larger epidemic has been quietly seeping into the lives of many, casting a shadow on our seemingly successful and thriving community.

It’s crucial that we recognize loneliness not just as a personal struggle but as a public health concern of significant proportions. As the CFO of Breathe, a platform deeply invested in community well-being, this issue hits close to home for me.

The Personal Connection

At its core, Silicon Valley is a place of ambition and achievement, where cultures from around the world converge in the pursuit of success. My Korean background has always emphasized hard work, determination, and achieving excellence. But amidst the career milestones and professional pursuits, our family faced an unexpected challenge.

One of my children was diagnosed with PANS, Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, a complex auto-immune disease that manifested in various ways – from acute obsessive-compulsive disorder to cognitive and behavioral symptoms. This journey introduced us to a realm of uncertainty and difficulty that extended far beyond our expectations.

Recognizing the Signs

In the midst of our family’s journey, we became acutely aware of the toll that loneliness and isolation can take. Our active lifestyle, filled with love for pickleball and a newfound passion for padel, seemed like an oasis from the everyday struggles. Yet, beneath the surface, the signs were there.

Anxiety, mood swings, and sudden behavioral changes became part of our daily reality. The sense of isolation, not knowing where to turn, only compounded our challenges. It became clear that, despite the surface appearance of success and a bustling community, the loneliness pandemic had found its way into our lives, just as it had for many others.

The Breathe Mission

Our aim is to connect people through shared experiences and foster stronger, healthier communities. We understand that true well-being is not just about physical health, but also about nourishing the mind and uplifting the soul.

In this article, we’ll explore the significance of addressing the loneliness pandemic in Silicon Valley and how Breathe, with its unique approach to health and wellness, is at the forefront of combating this growing concern. Together, we can recognize the signs, take action, and find solace in the connections we build.

Silicon Valley’s Response

In the heart of Silicon Valley lies San Mateo County, a thriving hub known for its tech giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Electronic Arts. It’s a place where innovation meets affluence, and the pursuit of success is a way of life. However, beneath the glittering facade of prosperity, a pressing issue has emerged—one that San Mateo County has chosen to confront head-on.

San Mateo County’s Bold Declaration

In a groundbreaking move, San Mateo County became the first in the United States to declare loneliness a public health emergency. The decision was not merely symbolic; it was a resounding acknowledgment of the pervasive nature of loneliness and its profound impact on our community’s well-being.

The Resolution That Matters

The Board of Supervisors of San Mateo County passed a resolution that sends a clear message—a commitment to addressing the loneliness pandemic. While the resolution doesn’t allocate funding directly, it underscores the significance of the issue and the urgency to act. This resolution isn’t just words on paper; it’s a rallying cry for change, a declaration that our community will not let loneliness go unchecked.

Numbers That Speak Volumes

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To comprehend the gravity of the situation, consider this: a county-led survey in 2022 revealed that a staggering 45% of San Mateo’s residents reported suffering from loneliness and isolation. These aren’t just statistics; they are individuals and families grappling with the emotional toll of disconnection. The findings of this survey paint a vivid picture of the loneliness epidemic, emphasizing that it knows no boundaries, affecting people from all walks of life.

This courageous step taken by San Mateo County serves as a beacon of hope for communities everywhere facing the loneliness pandemic. It’s a call to action, a recognition that the invisible wounds of isolation need healing. As we delve deeper into this issue, we’ll explore not only the broader loneliness epidemic but also how Breathe, with its unwavering commitment to fostering social connections and well-being, plays a pivotal role in this transformative journey.

The Broader Loneliness Epidemic

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy’s report on loneliness further emphasizes the gravity of the situation. Loneliness is not merely an emotional burden; it’s a critical contributor to individual and population health. The report highlights the connections between loneliness and physical ailments such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety. These insights underscore the urgency of addressing the loneliness pandemic.

Mersiha Playing Padel

The COVID-19 Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic served as an accelerant to an already simmering crisis. Isolation, social distancing, and the disruption of everyday routines intensified feelings of loneliness and isolation. What was once a concern has now become an urgent priority, demanding collective action to heal the emotional scars left by the pandemic.


In recognizing and addressing the loneliness pandemic, we embark on a journey towards healing and reconnection. Loneliness is not a solitary struggle; it’s a collective challenge that impacts us all. By acknowledging its significance, we take the first step toward a brighter, more connected future.

Silicon Valley’s bold actions, epitomized by San Mateo County’s declaration, underscore the urgency of this issue. It serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating that even in the midst of prosperity, we must prioritize our emotional well-being. Breathe’s mission, deeply ingrained in community well-being, aligns seamlessly with this endeavor.

As we navigate this path together, I encourage each one of you to explore Breathe’s offerings. From Padel to Yoga, Meditation to Biohacking, we have a myriad of experiences waiting for you. Join the MUSE, our gateway to staying up-to-date on the latest wellness opportunities around the Bay. Together, we can build stronger, more connected communities.

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