be

Key findings:

  • States with high rate of access to mental health care saw decrease in depression rates.
  • Oregon, West Virginia and Maine have the highest rates of depression.
  • Alaska, Louisiana and Tennessee saw largest increase of depression.
  • New Mexico, Massachusetts and Connecticut saw the largest decrease of depression.
  • Hawaii, New Jersey and California have lowest rates of depression.
  • 17.3 million Americans living with depression.
  • Access to mental health care through insurance is a significant barrier for people with depression and mental illness.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America, with over 17 million U.S. adults suffering from it. As it is one of the most common mental illnesses, there are many risk factors that affect Americans: Many are predisposed to depression through genetics, while some can be affected by things like stress, poor diet and substance abuse. For people to manage depression, access to mental health care is essential for those suffering from it.

Lack of access to mental health care is a serious issue for many with depression. Over 24 million adults with a mental illness did not receive any mental health treatment, with even nine million adults with a mental illness reporting they tried and could not receive treatment. Another five million people with mental illness are living uninsured.

We analyzed CDC data on depression rates, along with Mental Health America mental health care access data. We found that states that rated highly for mental health care access also saw significant decreases in depression from 2014 to 2018. Massachusetts had the second best access to mental healthcare and saw a 16% decrease in depression rates over a five year period. On the opposite end, states with low ratings to mental health care access mostly saw increases in depression rates from 2014 to 2018. Texas was rated the worst state for mental healthcare access and saw a 13% increase in depression rates over the same five year period. While not the case in every state, the trends on the high and low ends of the access to health care do show how access to health care can have an impact on treating depression.

To get rankings, we analyzed CDC data on depression rates in each state over a five-year period from 2014 to 2018. Our final rankings are an average rate over the same five-year period. States with the highest rates of depression are ranked 1st to 50th (lowest rate of depression). Also included with each states depression rates is the percentage of change in depression rates from 2014 to 2018. The percentage change is intended to show which states have seen an increase or decrease in depression rates. Access rankings from Mental Health America rank states 1 to 50, 1 being states with best access to mental healthcare and 50 being worst access to mental healthcare.

RankStateDepression Rate% Change in Depression RateAccess Rank
1Oregon25.20%9.17%23
2West Virginia24.62%12.71%28
3Maine23.52%-3.80%5
4Arkansas23.2%4.65%34
5Kentucky22.84%0.42%30
6Oklahoma22.70%6.88%38
7Alabama22.64%12.68%45
8Vermont22.64%-2.75%1
9Tennessee22.36%17.76%41
10Washington22.22%9.26%24
11Utah21.98%17.39%37
12Missouri21.96%2.30%25
13Michigan21.74%13.17%14
14Rhode Island21.62%0.97%3
15New Hampshire21.54%-1.43%9
16Louisiana20.76%24.06%40
17Montana20.58%7.35%27
18Ohio20.10%-4.31%10
19South Carolina20.06%0.00%46
20Indiana20.06%-4.83%21
21Mississippi19.86%9.05%47
22Pennsylvania19.62%9.64%12
23New Mexico19.60%-18.48%20
24Massachusetts19.56%-16.59%2
25Kansas19.24%11.29%42
26North Carolina19.16%4.21%43
27Idaho19.14%0.00%31
28Wyoming18.92%-5.79%44
29Minnesota18.18%-3.30%7
30North Dakota18.14%13.29%17
31Nebraska17.96%-2.26%33
32Wisconsin17.92%15.29%6
33Delaware17.90%-7.65%13
34Iowa17.88%-12.30%4
35Arizona17.88%-10.70%35
36Colorado17.58%-7.65%16
37Georgia17.32%-6.56%49
38Connecticut16.98%-15.30%8
39Virginia16.92%-4.60%36
40Alaska16.90%29.49%22
41Illinois16.80%5.99%19
42South Dakota16.42%-1.81%29
43Nevada16.14%0.64%48
44Maryland16.12%-3.14%11
45Florida15.92%-3.70%39
46Texas15.28%13.01%50
47New York14.88%-5.03%15
48California14.48%15.79%26
49New Jersey12.98%-11.94%32
50Hawaii11.76%17.76%18

Over the last 5 years, Kentucky has the 5th-highest average rate of depression at 22.84%. Kentucky was also found to have the 21st-worst access to mental health care in the nation. 

17.3 million Americans suffer from depression and even more with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So to help bring awareness, our team analyzed CDC depression rate data in each state over a five year period (2014 to 2018) to see which states have the biggest increase or decrease of depression rates, the highest/lowest average depression rate, as well as access to mental health care. 

Key Findings:

  • From 2014-2018, Kentucky’s depression rate has increased by .42%.
  • Oregon, West Virginia and Maine have the highest avg. rate of depression. 
  • California, NJ, and Hawaii have the lowest avg. rate of depression.
  • Alaska, Louisiana, and Tennessee saw the largest increase in depression. 
  • New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Connecticut saw the largest decrease in depression. 
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