Study names best and worst U.S. cities for mental health

Denver is the best city for mental health, while Dallas is the worst. These are determinations made in a recent study by CertaPet, a telehealth company, which analyzed the 50 most populous U.S. cities to find the best and worst places to live for mental health treatment.  

The study was conducted based on seven factors related to accessibility and cost of care, plus the quality of life in each state: therapy session rate, total prescription charges, mandatory treatment laws grade, criminalization of mental illness, number of residents per mental health provider, poor mental health days and overall community well-being. 

The study found Denver to be the best city for mental health, followed by Salt Lake City. Tied in third place are Minneapolis, Seattle and Hartford, Connecticut. Also among the top 10 best cities are Baltimore; Providence, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia; St. Louis and Washington, D.C.  

Colorado has a low average therapy session rate of $115 and statewide prescription charges of $3,197,004,648 annually. The findings noted that while the latter number seems high (Americans spend more than any other country on prescription drugs, at a current rate of more than $1,300 a person each year), most cities surveyed had even higher figures. Denver County was also found to have one provider per 170 residents, meaning mental health care was widely accessible. 

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Dallas was identified as the worst city for mental health, and three other Texas cities—Houston, Austin and San Antonio—are also on the list. The state’s annual prescription charges were calculated to be a whopping $23,370192,711, more than seven times Colorado’s. Its mandatory treatment laws are only average, the findings noted, while it has a history of incarcerating nearly eight individuals with severe mental illness for each one it hospitalizes, a ratio Fierce Healthcare could not independently verify.  

Also on the top 10 worst list are four Florida cities—Jacksonville, in third place behind Dallas and Houston, Tampa, Orlando and Miami. The state’s average therapy session costs $142, which is higher than most states CertaPet analyzed. Care availability was found to be spotty; for instance, Miami has only one mental health provider per 590 residents while Tampa only has one per 550 residents. Rounding out the top worst list are Birmingham, Alabama and Phoenix.

In terms of access purely based on the number of providers per population, Portland, Oregon, tied with New York City and San Francisco for first place. Each one has a provider for every 110 residents. Meanwhile, the best cities in terms of low prescription drug costs include Providence, Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; and Portland, Oregon. Denver also appears on that list, in eighth place.