How Does Your State Rank When it Comes to Mental Health?

I don’t want this entry to get political, but I feel many people are going to interpret it that way. That’s the problem with providing data these days. There are no such things as facts if people don’t want to believe objective information, and most people take their talking points from whatever cable news channel fits their political party’s agenda.

Mental Health America, a well-respected, non-profit, non-political organization that is now 111 years old released their annual status of the country report that ranks states (and Washington DC) in very specific areas of cases of mental health and access to care.

I can only encapsulate their results, so I urge you to check out their full overall rankings at: https://mhanational.org/issues/ranking-states

I also don’t want this to become too ridiculously dry, so I’ll highlight only a few areas and if you don’t see your state listed, you can find it at the link above.

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Adult Mental Health

The MHA ranked adult mental health using seven metrics, including adults who: have diagnosed mental illness, serious thoughts of suicide, are uninsured, have disabilities who could not see a doctor due to costs and a few others. States that ranked highest have lower prevalence of mental illness and highest rates of access to care for adults. The lowest ranked have higher cases of mental illness and lower access to care.

The Top 5:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Iowa
  3. Minnesota
  4. New York
  5. Maryland

The Bottom 5:

  1. Oregon
  2. Utah
  3. Idaho
  4. Wyoming
  5. Nevada

Youth Mental Health

The MHA also used seven measures to determine the state of youth mental health in America. Among them were youth who: had a substance use disorder in the last year, were diagnosed with mental illness but did not receive services, had private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional problems and had at least one major depressive episode in the last year.  As with adults, the highest ranked have a combination of the least cases and best access to care, while the lowest have a combination of most cases and worst access.

The Top 5:

  1. Washington DC
  2. Pennsylvania
  3. North Dakota
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Massachussets

The Bottom 5:

  1. Nevada
  2. Wyoming
  3. Alaska
  4. South Carolina
  5. Oregon

Access to Care

The MHA goes deeper with many of their categories, and I’m not listing several here for space reasons, but one of the lists I found quite compelling was about overall access to care. The list is comprised of nine metrics covering both adult and youth needs, including quality and cost of insurance, access to special education and mental health service both available and rendered.

The top states have the best access to mental health care while the bottom have the worse.

The Top 5:

  1. Vermont
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Iowa
  5. Maine

The Bottom 5:

  1. Texas
  2. Georgia
  3. Nevada
  4. Mississippi
  5. South Carolina

Now here comes the bugaboo that I’m hoping doesn’t draw the ire of those from mostly conservative states.

I’ve given you just a snapshot here. I urge you to go look at the rest of the lists. If you look at the Top 10 or Top 20 and their bottom counterparts, along with the maps they provide, one of which I included here, you’re going to see some patterns emerge. The southeast, south and northwest sections of the U.S. tend to score lower than those in the Northeast, Great Lakes area, and California. What does this remind you of?

Looking at the maps and their color-coding, it reminds me of the electoral map of US presidential elections. Those states that are traditionally states that cast their vote for the Democrat candidate are those that have the combination of the lowest cases of mental health issues and the best access to care. The states that traditionally cast their votes for Republic candidates are the ones that consistently have the most cases of mental health issues and worst access to care.

Did I make a fair generalization? Is there any connection between political affiliation and opinions/priority place on mental health care? Is this just a coincidence?

I’m not going to wade into that debate here. I just wanted to provide you with the information and let you draw an informed conclusion.

2 thoughts on “How Does Your State Rank When it Comes to Mental Health?

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