In playing with some county-level health data, I decided today to briefly talk about mentally unhealthy days. It's exactly what it sounds like, the number of days in a month you felt, well, mentally unhealthy -- at least according to surveys.
Yeah, for some of us that'd be pretty much every day.
The national average is 3.7 days a month. So who boasts the most nutso days? Sigh, you guessed it. It's the South.
Of the Top 10, five are in Alabama -- surprising no one. The county with the most mentally unhealthy days is Greene County, Alabama, with 5.6. Interesting factoid, that county is also #3 nationally in obesity. There is a correlation there, r = .44 in all U.S. counties between obesity and mental health, for you statistical nerds out there, so maybe they're related. Curiously, there's a negative correlation between excessive drinking and bad mental health days (r = -.64). I don't know what to make of that. Without booze, every day is a bad mental health day.
(Also keep in mind that respondents in the second place county, Sumter, reported 5.5 days, so we're not talking about a big difference and likely one within a statistical margin of error. Still, let's have fun with data).
You have to go all the way to #10 to find a non-southern county, that of Menominee, Wisconsin. By the way, the first Georgia county is Clay, coming in at #15.
Nine of the top 20 are in Alabama. Yes, I'll say it again -- surprising no one.
So who are the mentally healthy? Glad you asked. For some odd reason, South Dakota dominates with nine of the Top 10 (the other being a North Dakota county). Indeed, other than a Minnesota county slipping in, all of the top 25 or 30 or so come from the Dakotas. This makes me wonder if there's some measurement issue here in how the data were collected.
Below, the data aggregated by states
Most Bad Mental Health Days
1. Alabama (4.79)
2. West Virginia (4.70)
3. Tennessee (4.68)
4. Arkansas (4.36)
5. Oklahoma (4.34)
Fewest Bad Mental Health Days
1. North Dakota (2.68)
2. South Dakota (2.72)
3. Nebraska (2.78)
4. Minnesota (2.83)
5. Hawaii (2.90)