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.

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