Pharmacy Fact: What is the Best City for Mental Health Care in the United States?

Affordable and accessible mental health care is more important than ever, with conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, and acute stress reactions being elevated by the pandemic.1 Pharmacists can play a key role in helping to manage patients’ mental health, with studies demonstrating that pharmacists focused on mental health medication management can assist with medication adherence, disease control, and avoidance of hospitalization.­2 But where in the United States can patients best receive care easily and affordably?

CertaPet, a website providing mental health news and resources, ranked US cities based on data provided by Definitive Healthcare. Cities were ranked on a 50-point scale, weighing factors including therapy session rate by state, total prescription charges by state, their grade for mandatory treatment laws by state, criminalization of mental illness by state, number of residents per 1 mental health provider by county, poor mental health days by county, and overall community wellbeing.3

Ranked highest on the list was Denver, Colorado, with a score of 40 out of 50 points. Several factors contribute to this score: first, the total prescription charges for the state of Colorado rank eighth overall, at $3,197,004,648. Second, the state of Colorado also provides a very low average therapy session rate of $115. Third, and what makes Denver specifically accessible in terms of mental health care, Denver County offers 1 mental health provider per 170 residents, making Colorado’s relatively low cost for mental health care widely available to its citizens.3

In second place overall is Salt Lake City, Utah, with a score of 37.4, and third place is a 3-way tie between Minneapolis, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington, and Hartford, Connecticut, each with a score of 36.9.3

Ranked lowest on the list was Dallas, Texas, with a score of 23.5 out of 50 points. Texas places on the top 10 worst cities for mental health 4 times, in no small part due to the $23,370,192,711 annual prescription cost across all patients in the state, according to CertaPet.

Further, the state incarcerates nearly 8 individuals with severe mental illness for each individual it hospitalizes. According to CertaPet, the state also has middling mandatory treatment laws.3

Also appearing 4 times on the bottom 10 list was the state of Florida, featuring therapy costs of around $142 per session on average. According to CertaPet, access to care is also severely limited by a very low number of providers relative to the population. Miami, which ranks eighth on the worst list with a score of 26.1, has only 1 mental health provider per 590 residents. Tampa, ranking at position 5 on the bottom 10 with a score of 25.0, has 1 provider per 550 residents.3

CertaPet also separately ranked cities based on the per-state prescription charges, one of the factors used to determine their overall scores. At number 1 on this list was Providence, Rhode Island, with Washington, DC, placing a close second. Rhode Island and the District of Columbia are the only 2 states with under $1 billion in annual prescription costs for their residents. Citizens of Rhode Island are annually charged $595,083,087 overall in prescription costs, whereas individuals living in the District of Columbia pay $843,934,957 altogether.3

REFERENCE

  • Killgore WDS, Cloonan SA, Taylor EC, Dailey NS. Mental health during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Front. Psychiatry, 22 April 2021. Accessed August 25, 2021. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2021.561898
  • Werremeyer A, Bostwick J, Cobb C, et al. Impact of pharmacists on outcomes for patients with psychiatric or neurologic disorders. Ment Health Clin. 2020;10(6):358-380. Published 2020 Nov 5. doi:10.9740/mhc.2020.11.358
  • The best & worst cities for mental health in America. CertaPet; August 25, 2021. Accessed August 25, 2021. https://www.certapet.com/best-worst-cities-mental-health/