CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – In the past couple of years, most Americans can agree happiness is difficult to achieve.
The COVID-19 pandemic was one of the biggest stressors for people around the world as it impacted healthcare systems, the economy and mental health. However, as the United States inflation rate reached a 40-year high in June, 2022, 87% of Americans stated they were either “anxious” or “very anxious” about the current state of the economy according to a recent American Psychiatric Association poll.
Across the 50 states, West Virginia ranked 50th on WalletHub’s “2022 Happiest States in America.” Using three key dimensions—emotional and physical well-being, work environment and community and environment—and 30 metrics; WalletHub also declared Hawaii the “happiest.”
Out of 10 categories, West Virginia ranked as the worst for adult depression and adequate-sleep rates. Notably, although Louisiana (49th), Arkansas (48th) and Kentucky (47th) are ranked higher in happiness than West Virginia, they appeared in at least three or more of the ten main categories. Six out of 10 least happy states are in the Appalachian region.
So, why is West Virginia ranked the least happy?
WalletHub’s weighted categories. Each metric per state was originally out of a 100-point scale, and from there, a weighted average was taken from the 30 metrics to calculate the final score.
For example, the share of adults with depression, other mental health issues and high-alcohol use weigh heavier in the total “happiness” score than categories like social well-being. Because West Virginia is predominantly rural, the access to mental health support can be difficult or too costly for some residents.
Approximately one out of five, or 52.9 million people in 2020, lived with a mental health illness according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In West Virginia, approximately 31.7% of adults 18 years or older experience depression and anxiety.
For those struggling with mental health, visit ROTR.org for services in your area.