Utah ranks as 12th happiest state, has 5th highest rate of ‘serious mental health’ problem

Dec 9, 2021, 12:23 PM | Updated: 12:53 pm

FILE: Double Arch in Arches National Park
(Arches NP/NPS)...

FILE: Double Arch in Arches National Park (Arches NP/NPS)

(Arches NP/NPS)

In a ranking of the happiest states in the U.S., Utah is listed 12th but also had the fifth most adults suffering from serious mental health problems.

The overall happiness ranking was measured by combining six statistical categories — including a look at “serious mental illness” — to create a happiness score and ranking for all 50 states. It also measured the happiest countries in the world where the U.S. ranked 16.

Utah had high rankings in several of the happiness categories including the fifth lowest poverty rate at 9.79%, the fourth best safety score and was seventh lowest rate of homicides — 2.6 per 100,000 people. The Beehive State placed 15 in mean household income at $91,292 and was 12 in life expectancy at 79.6 years.

But its percentage of Utah’s mental health difficulties — 5.2% — was more than 2% higher than the state with the fewest percent of adults with  mental illness, Hawaii’s 3.18%.

The compilation of data was done by NiceRx that looked at statistics from the CDC for life expectancy and homicide rates, World Population Review for mean household income and safety rating and Data USA to measure mental illness and poverty.

“These factors cover a range of different topics, from health and social affairs to economic matters. This provided us with a good overview of the different stresses and strains that people living in these states might experience,” NiceRx said about its reporting.

Hawaii was marked as the happiest state in the U.S. with a 9.02 ranking when factoring all the categories. A destination for people from Utah and many other states and nations for its beauty and weather, it also features the lowest rate of adults with serious mental illness and the highest life expectancy at 81 years, ahead of second-place California’s 80.8 years. Utah’s 79.6 years placed it in a 12 spot. Idaho placed 20 at 29 years, Colorado was eighth at 80, Arizona’s 78.7 years landed it at the 24 spot, Nevada’s 77.9 years placed it at 33. Neighboring Wyoming landed at 30 with 78.1 and New Mexico’s 77.2 was good for a rank of 38. West Virginia had the shortest life expectancy at 74.4 years.


  1. Hawaii – 9.02
  2. Connecticut – 8.82
  3. New Jersey – 8.25
  4. Massachusetts – 8.14
  5. Minnesota – 8.06


  • 12. Utah – 7.06
  • 18. Colorado – 6.66
  • 22. Wyoming – 6.27
  • 26. Nevada – 5.92
  • 27. Arizona – 5.84
  • 30. Idaho – 5.81
  • 42. New Mexico – 3.86


  1. Mississippi – 2.06
  2. Louisiana – 2.38
  3. Arkansas – 2.61
  4. Alabama – 3.17
  5. West Virginia – 3.19

Mississippi with the lowest happiness ranking also had the largest poverty rate at over 20% and the lowest safety score at 33.11, approximately half of Minnesota’s 66.43 safety score, the best in the U.S.

Mississippi also scored the highest homicide rate at 15.4 per 100,000 people. That is not only significantly higher than Utah’s rate of 2.6 homicides, it’s higher than Utah’s rate of automobile deaths at 7.8 in 2018 and the U.S. automobile rate of 11.6. However, Mississippi’s homicide rate is lower than Utah’s suicide rate of 21.4 per 100,000 from 2018 to 2020, according to state records.

The CDC lists Utah’s COVID-19 death rate at 134.1 per 100,000 for the final quarter of 2020 and 49.7 for all of 2020. The disease was first documented in Utah in March 2020. The leading cause of death is heart disease, that is not contagious, at 167.9. By comparison, the state’s firearm injury death rate is 12.8 per 100,000 and drug overdoses are 13.6.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of da...

Shelby Lofton

Downtown nail spa broken into, hate speech spray-painted on the wall

The owners of WaterCreek Nails and Spa said a break-in resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage, but the hate speech left behind made the situation worse.

5 hours ago

A Utah Highway Patrol vehicle in Salt Lake City is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. (Deseret Ne...

Mark Jones

UHP trooper injured in collision with alleged DUI driver

The Utah Highway Patrol says a 24-year-old man was taken into custody early Saturday morning after he was allegedly driving more than 100 mph and attempted to elude authorities.

7 hours ago

City officials in Eagle Mountain say a family of nine has been displaced following a house fire Sun...

Mark Jones

Eagle Mountain family safely escapes house fire, crews prevent home from being total loss

City officials in Eagle Mountain say a family of nine has been displaced following a house fire Sunday afternoon.

10 hours ago

Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Jeffrey R. Holland (center) records a histor...

Tad Walch, Deseret News

‘I’m planning on eternity’: President Holland rededicates historic St. George Utah Temple

President Jeffrey R. Holland rededicated the St. George Utah Temple, the oldest operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after a major renovation.

11 hours ago

Viktoria Tibbitts, center, with her sister and mom. A fundraiser was held Sunday for Viktoria, who ...

Brianna Chavez

Dozens show up to Riverdale Denny’s to support employee hit by truck

A busy Sunday is meant to be expected, but this Sunday's workday was much more meaningful for employees at the Denny's on Riverdale Road.

11 hours ago

Lloyd D. Newell, the announcer and writer of the weekly Music & the Spoken Word broadcast for the p...

Devin Oldroyd

Lloyd Newell announces departure from ‘Music & the Spoken Word’

After 34 years, Lloyd Newell, host of the Tabernacle Choir’s “Music & the Spoken Word”, announced he is concluding his service next year.

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Utah ranks as 12th happiest state, has 5th highest rate of ‘serious mental health’ problem