America’s happiest and unhappiest states REVEALED: You’re probably depressed if you live in coal mining country
- Research shows Nebraska is the happiest state, while West Virginia ranks last
- The researchers measured unemployment rates, violent crime, and exercise
- READ MORE: Half of the globe will have a mental health condition by age 75
Americans living in Nebraska, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are more likely to be happier than those living in states like West Virginia.
Researchers found that the fewer ‘bad mental health days,’ greater access to mental health providers, lower suicide and unemployment rates, and less air pollution are all responsible for the cornhusker state of Nebraska landing on top.
Meanwhile, the coal mining state West Virginia fell to the bottom of the rankings due to high unemployment, more violent crime, less access to exercise opportunities, and more ‘disconnected youth.’
Using federal data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), healthcare staffing company Soliant Health ranked all 50 states to see which had the best mental health outcomes.
The researchers said the top states ranked high, in part, because they ‘meet the mental health needs’ of their residents, meaning they prioritize services that improve mental well-being.
Soliant Health ranked the best and worst states for mental health. Nebraska had the best mental health outcomes, while West Virginia fell to the bottom
The categories used to score a state’s mental health were: the frequency of ‘bad mental health days,’ access to mental health providers, suicide rate in those ages 15 to 24, unemployment rate, violent crime rate, disconnected youth rate, access to exercise opportunities, and air pollution
The categories used to score a state’s mental health were: how often people reported having ‘bad mental health days,’ access to mental health providers, suicide rates in those ages 15 to 24, unemployment rate, violent crime rate, disconnected youth rate- the number of people ages 16 to 24 who aren’t working or in school- access to exercise opportunities, and air pollution.
READ MORE: One in TEN high school students have attempted suicide
The researchers scored each state on a scale, with the highest score being 100 points across the eight categories.
Nebraska reached the number one spot, scoring 85.2 points, because it had the lowest level of disconnected youth.
The researchers wrote: ‘Disconnected youths are at an increased risk of developing poor mental health, with increased risks of violence, alcohol, drug use, and emotional deficits.
‘This correlation is further supported by several studies showing that disconnected youths will grow to have an increased rate of unemployment, poverty, and mental health disorders.’
The Cornhusker State was also at the top of the list because it had the lowest number of bad mental health days, as well as the lowest unemployment.
Connecticut and Massachusetts ranked numbers two and three due to their increased access to mental health professionals, such as therapists and counselors. Connecticut scored 85 points, while Massachusetts earned 81.8.
Coming in last place was West Virginia, which had the highest number of mentally unhealthy days reported by residents.
The state also had the least access to exercise opportunities, such as public parks, recreation centers, and YMCAs.
And previous research has shown that the Mountaineer State also has the highest rates of depression in the US. According to CDC data, 27.5 percent of West Virginia residents are depressed.
The CDC research showed levels of depression were higher in women, younger adults and adults with lower education levels.
Twenty-four percent of women, compared to just 13 percent of men, reported having experienced depression.
Societal factors could be to blame for West Virginians’ blue moods. Adults in the Appalachian region tend to have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, and lower education levels, all of which can negatively affect health and well-being, according to the CDC study.
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