How New York Compares Against the National Mental Health Rankings

  • The study examined multiple health factors, including frequent mental distress, life expectancy, and physical inactivity, to assign each state a mental health ranking score. 
  • New York secures a score of 65.5, claiming 16th place for mental well-being.
  • Hawaii leads the rankings with a score of 91.4, with West Virginia falling behind at 5.6.

A new analysis has examined how each state’s mental health data compares across the country, with New York ranking above the national average.

The study, conducted by Leafwell, examined various health indicators for each state, including levels of frequent mental distress, physical inactivity, number of poor mental health days, life expectancy, access to exercise and median household income. An overall health score was calculated for each state out of 100, leading to a ranking based on these critical health metrics. 

New York has calculated a total score of 65.5, placing it 16th within the overall national rankings. With a $74,200 median annual income that is 7.7% higher than the US average, New York also exceeds the average life expectancy by almost two years, reaching the age of 80. This state does match the national averages regarding the number of poor mental health days, which stands at four per month, and only 13% of the population experiences frequent mental distress. New York also has a relatively high 75% physical activity rate among the population, due to 93% having access to exercise opportunities – the national average is 81%. 

Commenting on the study, Mitchell L. Doucette, PhD., M.S., Director of Research at Leafwell, said, “As we delve into the intricacies of New York’s health metrics, it becomes evident that factors such as access to exercise opportunities, median household income, and mental health resources play pivotal roles in shaping the well-being of communities.”

“By highlighting the attributes of New York and other states in the rankings, we aim to inspire conversations and initiatives that prioritize comprehensive approaches to improve the quality of life for residents nationwide.”

The Five Best States for Mental Health

3New Jersey80.1

Securing the top spot is Hawaii, boasting a health score of 91.4. Despite its relatively small population of 1.4 million, Hawaii is often synonymous with a stress-free environment. It stands out with the highest average life expectancy among all states, reaching an impressive 82.3 years. The state also excels in mental well-being, experiencing an average of only 3.6 days of poor mental health per month. Remarkably, only 11% of the population reports more than 14 days of poor mental health in a given month, reflecting low levels of frequent mental distress.

The Five Worst States for Mental Health

1West Virginia 5.6 
2Arkansas 8.7 
3Mississippi 8.9 
4Alabama 14.9 

West Virginia has the lowest overall well-being, earning a health score of just 5.6. With a population of 1.7 million, a concerning 19% of residents report experiencing frequent mental distress, which translates to more than 14 days of poor mental health in a given month. This alarming percentage is the highest across the United States. Additionally, the state faces the challenge of the second-worst life expectancy at 74.3 years. This figure is notably four years below the national average, reflecting a critical health disparity within the state. 

***  conducted the research.

Sources: University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute 

Methodology: The study analyzed the mental and physical well-being across all 50 states. An index was developed by gathering statistics on median household income, frequent mental distress, poor mental health days, access to exercise opportunities, physical inactivity rate, life expectancy, and population. By averaging the data and combining each variable, a health score out of 100 was calculated, respectfully ranking each state. 


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