Here are the top-ranked states for mental health

Here are the top-ranked states for mental health

The story at a glance


  • Ninety percent of adults in the United States believe there is a mental health crisis.

  • A new report ranks states by the prevalence of mental illness and access to mental health care.

  • More than half of people with mental illness do not receive treatment or care.

In a recent CNN and Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 90% of adults said there was a mental health crisis. A new report from Mental Health America (MHA) ranks states based on mental health access and prevalence metrics of mental health conditions.

According to the report, almost 20% of adults suffered from a mental illness in 2019 and about 4.5% report having serious suicidal thoughts. About 15% of young people have experienced MDE in the past year.

Fifty-five percent of the more than 50 million people with mental illness have not received any treatment, the report said, with the main reasons being access and cost.

Overall, the states with the highest prevalence of mental illness were New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, Texas, and New York. Measures of mental illness included adults and youth with any mental illness, substance use disorder, severe suicidal thoughts and major depressive episodes.

States with the greatest access to care included Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Access to care was measured by access to insurance, access to treatment, quality and cost of insurance, access to special education and availability of labor work in mental health.

The top states with the best mental health, or the combination of lowest prevalence of mental illness and best access to mental health care, are:

  1. Massachusetts
  1. New Jersey
  1. Pennsylvania
  1. Connecticut
  1. Vermont
  1. New York
  1. Wisconsin
  1. Maine
  1. Maryland
  1. Minnesota

States at the bottom of the ranking have higher prevalence rates and less access to care and include Kansas, Indiana, Utah, Texas, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho and Nevada .

The report says that for Texas, the biggest impact on its score and ranking comes from an increase in the percentage of adults with dementia who couldn’t see a doctor because of the cost. In another example, Oklahoma rose in the rankings because the percentage of children with private insurance that did not cover mental or emotional issues declined.

The report further breaks down the adult and youth rankings by state.

“Again this year, the evidence is clear regarding the urgent mental health crisis we face in the United States. From the high number of our young people contemplating suicide, to an increase in substance use, to the widespread difficulty in accessing the care they seek, Americans are experiencing high rates of distress and frequent challenges in obtaining help,” said Schroeder Stribling, President and CEO. of the MHA in a press release.

States with the worst access to care included Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Texas. “Our country has a known shortage of mental health care providers – one provider for every 350 people – and barriers such as lack of insurance or insurance that does not sufficiently cover the cost of mental health care compound the lack of access for those who need help, with geographic and racial disparities,” Maddy Reinert, senior director of population health at MHA, explained in the press release. “We cannot expect the mental health improves in the United States if people in need cannot access the kinds of care they want.”

One limitation to note is that the data used to produce these rankings was collected through 2020, including data from the National Drug Use and Health Survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This is the most recent public data available. “The rankings are based on percentages, or rates, for each state gathered from the most recent data available,” according to the MHA website.

Additional statistics and the full report are available on the MHA website. Stribling says, “Everyone deserves access to the care they need and the opportunity to live a thriving life of recovery.

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