Healthy Living

published : 2023-10-13

Here are the best and worst US states for mental health, as revealed in a new report

Nebraska ranked as best state for mental health, according to a report from Soliant Health

Nebraska landscape with a peaceful sunrise, taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Where you live could have a lot to do with how you feel.

A recent study from Soliant Health, a health care staffing and research company based in Atlanta, Georgia, has revealed this year’s best and worst U.S. states to live in for mental health.

Drawing from national registries and agency data, the report weighed numerous factors that impact people's mental health status across all 50 states.

These included the frequency of 'bad mental health days,' access to mental health providers, the suicide rate between the ages of 15 and 24, the unemployment rate, the violent crime rate, the disconnected youth rate, access to exercise opportunities and air pollution, the published report stated.

The top 10 best states for mental health, according to the report, are:

1. Nebraska

2. Connecticut

3. Massachusetts

4. Minnesota

5. Rhode Island

A group of diverse teenagers studying together in Connecticut, taken with Nikon D850

6. New Jersey

7. Vermont

8. Colorado

9. North Dakota

10. Utah

Nebraska landed in the top spot, as it had the lowest share of teenagers and young adults (4.28%) who are unemployed or not in school.

The Cornhusker State hit a high score of 85.2 out of 100 in weighted mental health points.

Runners-up Connecticut and Massachusetts scored a close 85 and 81.8 points, respectively.

West Virginia ranked as the worst state in the U.S. for mental health, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

The Mountain State had the highest average number of mentally unhealthy days in the last 30 days.

Scenic view of the Massachusetts coastline during sunset, taken with Sony Alpha a7 III

Alabama had the worst mental health provider-to-population ratio and came in second-to-last for the most mentally unhealthy days, according to the report.

Arkansas scored low in a variety of categories, including exercise opportunities, disconnected youth rate, air pollution, and mentally unhealthy days.

The report gave honorable mentions to findings in states like California, which ranked highest for the most access to exercise opportunities but lowest for air pollution.

In a statement, Dr. Gary Small, psychiatry chair of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, commented on his state's high ranking for mental health.

He mentioned that New Jersey has expanded its focus on mental health in recent years and allocated aid to mental health care, including the 988 hotline and mental health services for students.

Hackensack Meridian Health has also launched various mental health services, including the first behavioral health urgent care facility in the U.S.

Dr. Small noted that New Jersey's educated and high-income population allows for better access to care and healthier lifestyle habits.

California, unfortunately, ranked lower on the report due to the challenges faced by the state in terms of mental health problems and inadequate resources.

Donald J. Parker, president of Behavioral Health Transformation Services at Hackensack Meridian Health, emphasized the importance of comprehensive mental health care and highlighted efforts to identify potential suicidal behaviors in teenagers through training programs in schools.

The study by Soliant Health aims to elevate conversations around mental health and understand disparities in mental health support.