Top 5 Best and Worst States for Public Health

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

U.S. News released a thorough study on public health, ranking the states from worst to best based on variables including smoking, access to nutrition, “economic challenges” and, of course, mental health.

I had to capitalize on this opportunity to see what commonalities between the best states and between the worst states in terms of their incarceration policies and their mental health policies.  In this way, hopefully we can begin to paint a picture – with broad strokes – about mental health as it exists inside and outside the U.S. corrections system.


Five Best States for Public Health

  1. California
  2. New York
  3. New Jersey
  4. Hawaii
  5. Massachusetts

Yes, there they are, I did give them to you straight instead of drawing out the process the way other bloggers might.  Why?  Because there’s a higher purpose here.  The goal now is to look into these states and determine what they might hold in common that makes them so good for public health at large, and mental health too.

Just because these states are in the top five for public health overall does not mean that they topped in rank for subcategories.  Specifically, we may note that California ranks 1st in public health overall, but ranks 13th in mental health, which is of the greatest importance for our purposes.  That, compared to Hawaii, which ranks 4th overall but comes in 3rd place as the best state for mental health.

Some commonalities we see between these states is that they are relatively affluent with high cost-of-living conditions.  Politically we also see that these states are often more liberal in their political climate as well.


Five Worst States for Public Health

  1. Kentucky
  2. Alabama
  3. Mississippi
  4. Arkansas
  5. West Virginia

Just as with the best states, I give the news to you up front.  With Kentucky coming in 46th place for worst state in public health overall, to West Virginia in worst place as our 50th spot, these Midwestern and Southern states do not do well in public health or in mental health, where they also rank very low.

Chief commonalities between these states is that they have low relative per capita incomes, the states often turn red during the election season, and unlike our first list are relatively similar across subcategories insofar as that all of our worst-overall states have also received fairly low scores in all other subcategories.


In essence, I wish to leave you with this: the United States is a big country, and the states that make up this country are themselves incredibly diverse, with their own trials, tribulations, and in terms of resource access, privileges as well.  In comparing coastal states like California and New Jersey with landlocked states like Arkansas, for example, one sees that even the difference in access for trade and tourism purposes is much easier for coastal regions that would be for the landlocked state.  These economic resources also do their part in factoring into a state’s capacity to care for the health of its people.


The mentally ill know.
.     .    .   .  . ……………………….to imagine beyond………………………. . .  .   .    .      .

Do you have any questions you’ve been dying to ask me or any mental health topics you want me to cover? Do you have any comments or suggestions?  Let me know in the comments below!

I would love to share my experience with you! Get in touch with me if you are interested in hosting me as a speaker for your Mental Health workshop, conference, or other event.

Follow me on Twitter @akaclouise, on Instagram @aka.clouise on Facebook at /AKA.CLouise!



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