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Your State of Mental Health

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:41pm

Which state is psychologically healthier: New York or California? Sounds like a strange question, but it turns out that your emotional well-being may be linked to where you live.

Using CDC survey data, researchers tallied the percentage of residents in every state who reported that their mental health--which included stress, depression and problems with emotions--had been "not good" for at least 14 of the past 30 days. Data were collected before the current recession.

The study, published in the June issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that people living in Kentucky fared worst, with 14% of adults reporting frequent mental distress. West Virginia and Nevada weren't far behind.


The least stressed-out state? Hawaii, where fewer than 7% of residents reported poor mental health. Not too surprising, perhaps. But consider this: Washington, DC--not typically regarded as a bastion of happiness--also topped the list, as did South Dakota. To find out how your state ranked, see the full list.

For the most part, climate didn't appear to be a factor. New Yorkers were better off than Californians, and Hawaiians notwithstanding, people living in the relatively harsh climates of the upper Midwest tended to come out on top.

Still, as this video segment shows, weather can affect our mental well-being, but sometimes in unexpected ways. Another new study --this one published in BMC Psychiatry --found that suicides in Greenland were more common in the summertime, especially in northern regions with nearly constant daylight.

Too much sunny weather, it seems, may not be so good for your mental health. Unless you live in Hawaii.

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