Your environment and where you live are huge influences on your mental and emotional health. Where you live determines your access to healthcare, leisure, and green space, as well as your cost of living and general quality of life, therefore directly impacting your mental health. Based on a combination of mental, physical, social, financial, and environmental factors, below are a handful of the most mentally healthy states in the US.
People in metropolitan areas and more populated cities tend to have increased access to mental health resources, whether those resources be therapy, education, medication, or the ability to practice self-care and leisure. While many of the cities mentioned in this article are indeed among the most populated in their respective states, these cities’ high mental health rankings do not represent their states–or their more rural and underserved regions–as a whole.
Naperville, Illinois is considered one of the most mentally healthy cities in the country, due to having one of the highest concentrations of therapists per 100,000 residents in the country. It’s also regarded as one of the richest cities in the Midwest. As a result, the Chicago suburb is home to few with mental health issues and boasts both high health insurance coverage rates and a low divorce rate.
As the most populous state in the union, it’s no wonder California is home to more than a handful of the nation’s most mentally healthy cities. Pasadena, Fremont, and Irvine residents have reported some of the nation’s lowest mental illness rates. Cities like these, along with San Diego and San Francisco (despite the substance use epidemic that currently plagues the latter), report low unemployment rates and high access to healthcare as well.
Like their southern Californian counterparts, people who live in and around the Pacific Northwest also appear among the country’s most mentally healthy. Similar to San Francisco’s situation, Seattle has grappled with homelessness and widespread substance abuse in recent years. However, Seattle is well regarded for its ease of access to green space and mental health treatment, with a community of people who are physically and socially active. In Seattle’s suburbs, Bellevue residents rank high on their ability to maintain work-life balance and financial stability–two heavily influential factors upon one’s mental and emotional well-being.
Scottdale, Arizona is similar to Naperville, Illinois in that the rest of the state may fall behind in its demographic of mentally healthy residents. Nevertheless, residents rank high among social wellness and mindfulness, as well as access to healthcare. Moreover, the state of Arizona has historically received the highest amount of sunshine in the US, and one of the most significant mental health benefits of sunshine is in the Vitamin D our bodies absorb from it, boosting our serotonin levels.
The East Coast is known for its busier lifestyle compared to that of the West Coast, and many people in the Northeast struggle with long work hours and excessive drinking. However, the wealthy Washington, D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Virginia stands out in the region, as it ranks seventh in the country for mental health. With a population of socially and physically active and financially stable residents, Alexandria has ranked third in the country for its ratio of therapists to residents.
While your mental health is certainly influenced by physical, social, and financial factors, your environment and where you live also play a key role in your ability to take care of your mental health. Factors such as access to healthcare, green spaces, cost of living, and overall quality of life directly impact our mental health.
It’s important to remember that these rankings may not reflect the well-being of entire states, including their more rural or underserved regions. Ultimately, major cities in states like Arizona, Washington, and California provide valuable insights into how offering therapeutic resources, economic stability, and social engagement, can benefit the mental health of entire populations. It’s also worth noting that things can constantly change. States like Georgia and Tennessee are seeing major gains in access to care. Especially with spaces like TRUE Addiction & Behavioral Health offering treatment for both addiction and mental health.