Study Reveals Best and Worst U.S. States for Mental Health

A recent study by Soliant Health ranks the best and worst states in the U.S. for mental health based on various factors.

Where you live can have a significant impact on your mental health. A recent study conducted by Soliant Health, a healthcare staffing and research company, has shed light on the best and worst states in the U.S. for mental health. Drawing from national registries and agency data, the study considered several factors that influence mental health, including access to mental health providers, suicide rates, unemployment rates, violent crime rates, and more. This comprehensive analysis provides valuable insights into the state of mental health across the country.

The Best States for Mental Health

According to the study, the top 10 best states for mental health are Nebraska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Vermont, Colorado, North Dakota, and Utah. Nebraska secured the top spot with the lowest percentage of unemployed or out-of-school teenagers and young adults. Connecticut and Massachusetts closely followed, scoring high in weighted mental health points.

The Worst States for Mental Health

On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia ranked as the worst state for mental health, followed by Alabama and Arkansas. West Virginia had the highest average number of mentally unhealthy days in the last 30 days, while Alabama struggled with a low mental health provider-to-population ratio. Arkansas scored poorly in various categories, including exercise opportunities, disconnected youth rate, air pollution, and mentally unhealthy days.

Noteworthy Findings

The study also highlighted noteworthy findings in states like California, which ranked highest in access to exercise opportunities but lowest in air pollution. Dr. Gary Small, psychiatry chair of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, expressed his delight at the state’s ranking as the sixth best for mental health. He attributed this success to New Jersey’s increased focus on mental health in recent years, including the allocation of aid to mental health care and the establishment of the first behavioral health urgent care facility in the U.S.

The Impact of Demographics and Resources

Dr. Small further emphasized that New Jersey’s educated and high-income population correlates with better access to care and healthier lifestyle habits. He noted that regular physical activity plays a crucial role in mental health and leads to lower rates of depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline. However, he also acknowledged the challenges faced by states like California, which ranked 17th in the report due to the explosion of mental health problems and inadequate resources.

A Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health

Donald J. Parker, president of Behavioral Health Transformation Services at Hackensack Meridian Health, highlighted the importance of a comprehensive approach to mental health care. He mentioned a collaboration between their hospital network and the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide to train nurses in identifying signs of potential suicidal behaviors in emergency rooms. This proactive approach aims to provide the right services to prevent self-harm and prioritize mental health.

The Soliant Health study provides valuable insights into the best and worst states for mental health in the U.S. Factors such as access to mental health providers, unemployment rates, and exercise opportunities play a crucial role in determining the overall mental well-being of individuals in each state. While some states have made significant strides in prioritizing mental health, others face challenges in providing adequate resources. The study serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing mental health on a comprehensive level and highlights the need for continued efforts to improve mental health care nationwide.