These Are the Worst U.S. States for Your Mental Health, Study Says


While some people may be pre-dispositioned to suffer from mental health conditions, there are a variety of external factors that can also impact mental well being. One factor is simply your physical location. To get a better sense of where we live can affect our mental health, a new study ranked the best and worst states for happiness and mental health. And the three lowest-ranking states were all clustered in the same general part of the country.

The study, conducted by Soliant Health—a leading national provider of healthcare jobs and staffing services—worked with healthcare professionals to consider a wide range of factors impacting people of at all ages to come up with its findings. The study’s authors also considered factors regarding the ability to engage in good mental health practices. 

These included the frequency of “bad mental health days” reported by the existing population, access to mental health providers, suicide rates among people aged 15 to 24, unemployment rates, violent crime rates, and disconnected youth rates among teens and young adults who are neither working nor in school. Access to exercise, such as the availability of public parks, recreation facilities, and YMCAs also played a role; in addition to air pollution, offsetting rural areas with limited access to exercise opportunities.

What the study found was that West Virginia came in dead last—country roads, take me home, be damned—with the highest average number of mentally unhealthy days reported by residents. West Virginia likewise was coincidentally found to have the least access to exercise opportunities.

Second-to-last was Alabama, with the worst mental health provider-to-population ratio and second for bad mental health days. Arkansas, which came in third-to-last, ranked poorly in the majority of the categories, such as the third-worst access to exercise opportunities, the fifth-highest disconnected youth rate, the sixth-highest air pollution, and the fourth-highest number of mentally unhealthy days.

Conversely, Nebraska was the best overall state for mental health, tallying 85.2 of the total 100 points possible across the eight mental health categories. You can see the top ten states for best mental health listed below.

  1. Nebraska
  2. Connecticut 
  3. Massachusetts 
  4. Minnesota 
  5. Rhode Island 
  6. New Jersey 
  7. Vermont 
  8. Colorado 
  9. North Dakota 
  10. Utah

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