New Rankings List Nebraska as Top State for Mental Health

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Oct. 12, 2023 – The top state for mental health is Nebraska, according to new rankings based on things ranging from violent crime rates to air pollution. Rounding out the top five spots were Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

The new report, “The Best States For Your Mental Health,” was commissioned by a Georgia-based company called Soliant that focuses on health care staffing. In the report, the authors explained they sought to include a broader set of variables than simply gauging access to mental health care. 

The rankings were based on these eight things: 

  • The average number of mentally unhealthy days per month reported by people who took an annual CDC health survey
  • The ratio of mental health providers to state population, based on the federal registry of providers recognized by Medicare and Medicaid
  • Suicide rate among people ages 15 to 24 years old in the state between 2018 and 2021
  • Unemployment rate of people ages 16 and older
  • Statewide violent crime rate according to an FBI reporting system
  • Access to exercise opportunities, such as public parks and physical activity facilities
  • Air pollution
  • Disconnected youth rate, which is the percentage of people ages 16 to 19 years old who are neither working nor in school, according to Census data 

The report authors noted that the disconnected youth rate was weighted similarly to many other variables in the analysis, but had a significant impact on a state’s final ranking. Disconnected youth, the authors wrote, are at “an increased risk of violence, smoking, alcohol consumption and marijuana use, and may have emotional deficits and less cognitive and academic skills than their peers who are working and/or in school.”

For the top-ranked state of Nebraska, the disconnected youth rate was the lowest of all 50 states, at 4.3%. Other things that pushed Nebraska to the top of the list included having one of the five lowest unemployment rates and one of the five lowest rates of bad mental health days. 

Nationwide, nearly 15% of U.S. adults reported poor mental health for at least 14 days of the past 30 days during 2021, according to CDC survey results compiled for a different report published by the United Health Foundation.

About one in five people in the U.S. have a mental illness, according to the CDC

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available 24 hours a day via phone, chat, or text from the 988 Lifeline. It’s free and confidential. Call or text 988, or go online to chat.