2022’s Best Cities for Mental Wellness

A woman smiles while having a meditative moment sitting cross-legged in the grass.

Your surroundings can have a big influence on how you’re feeling. A bit of sunshine, green space, and accessible mental health resources can go a long way. 

So, which cities have the optimal environment for mental well-being?

To mark World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10, LawnStarter compared over 190 of the biggest U.S. cities to rank 2022’s Best Cities for Mental Wellness.

We considered 33 metrics based on mental, physical, social, financial, and environmental factors. These include factors like access to therapists, cost of living, average sleep levels, meditation classes, and urban gardening-friendliness. 

See how your city is doing below, followed by our analysis and expert tips.


City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreMental Wellness and Access RankPhysical Wellness RankMindfulness and Social Wellness RankFinancial Wellness RankEnvironment Rank
1Naperville, IL71.078342313
2Pasadena, CA70.81127113285
3Seattle, WA68.72981212149
4Fremont, CA68.16151224146
5San Francisco, CA67.9231839424
6Bellevue, WA67.545111624116
7Alexandria, VA67.3323153262
8Irvine, CA67.0974467817
9Fort Collins, CO66.03453202136
10Santa Rosa, CA65.5834911908
11Scottsdale, AZ65.57212523565
12San Diego, CA65.31287159232
13Oakland, CA65.25610368177
14Salt Lake City, UT64.70922725117
15San Jose, CA64.50126605188
16Portland, OR64.456051728107
17Huntington Beach, CA64.15192695639
18Madison, WI63.73641258589
19Minneapolis, MN63.57711926682
20Atlanta, GA63.031642463138
21Torrance, CA62.784217310254
22Austin, TX62.772335849134
23Frisco, TX62.671466541315
24Sunnyvale, CA62.5110131015247
25Boise, ID61.9667151161410
26Overland Park, KS61.62326569343
27Orange, CA61.081823597752
28Raleigh, NC60.9030413427120
29Fullerton, CA60.581329847463
30Olathe, KS60.401134878422
31Denver, CO59.643658216280
32Durham, NC59.5439325723163
33Plano, TX59.512459655340
34Santa Clarita, CA59.2120477511912
35Lincoln, NE59.10755391931
36Sacramento, CA58.935061298327
37Colorado Springs, CO58.8714316774429
38Grand Rapids, MI58.7927702843106
39Denton, TX58.615256483190
40Las Vegas, NV58.5011536331396
41Eugene, OR58.48124143571123
42McKinney, TX58.432995553318
43Los Angeles, CA58.41252837174114
44Escondido, CA58.3393302512050
45Virginia Beach, VA57.739989401720
46Chula Vista, CA57.706137999914
47Tampa, FL57.498487148725
48Elk Grove, CA57.48597271647
49Glendale, CA57.18222210516237
50Orlando, FL57.1035766154127
51Long Beach, CA57.0617437915891
52Oceanside, CA56.8566446311851
53Lakewood, CO56.837438883098
54Vancouver, WA56.7262407276103
55Sioux Falls, SD56.675792119281
56Hayward, CA56.47372013010160
57Tempe, AZ56.4177553896109
58Washington, DC56.4111869350150
59Spokane, WA56.41117241044284
60Reno, NV56.2013846826011
61Albuquerque, NM56.1917917974528
62St. Paul, MN55.9585331731566
63Anaheim, CA55.9043499011486
64Riverside, CA55.7948674285172
65Tucson, AZ55.77152514112216
66Miami, FL55.72339410170108
67Pittsburgh, PA55.6647905126180
68Corona, CA55.5949647669125
69Boston, MA55.3469459513342
70Omaha, NE55.1673791141672
71Greensboro, NC54.90105544597159
72Richmond, VA54.89559830117105
73Jersey City, NJ54.7940637414849
74Charlotte, NC54.7168756857141
75Fort Lauderdale, FL54.653113213111152
76Santa Ana, CA54.24516011013763
77New York, NY54.1644526218792
78Oxnard, CA53.78536811314023
79Tallahassee, FL53.51128822779165
80Lexington, KY53.421451085220110
81Henderson, NV53.31114811411041
82Huntsville, AL53.31141856119175
83Garden Grove, CA53.22415712213695
84Phoenix, AZ52.881336280113115
85Rancho Cucamonga, CA52.7326100107110130
86Chicago, IL52.67421118668147
87Aurora, IL52.491071101341834
88Yonkers, NY52.3556781768221
89Rochester, NY52.141299732125131
90Salem, OR52.03164934354119
91Chesapeake, VA51.98142138871168
92Salinas, CA51.80897310616133
93Midland, TX51.7611118367224
94Winston-Salem, NC51.57131121100669
95Anchorage, AK51.521663914536140
96Cincinnati, OH51.511371131888186
97Knoxville, TN51.461721071965168
98Joliet, IL51.45120116174878
99Peoria, AZ51.321591021092930
100Mesa, AZ51.321181041117045
101Modesto, CA51.31911018913171
102Providence, RI51.061198410810376
103St. Petersburg, FL50.98100961219570
104El Paso, TX50.9386831781732
105Pomona, CA50.924650160164126
106Chandler, AZ50.87791421184735
107Aurora, CO50.86135741674859
108Des Moines, IA50.391471221447101
109Palmdale, CA50.37587116515375
110Tacoma, WA50.181261195559184
111Chattanooga, TN50.151251175361190
112Ontario, CA49.856591129128139
113Thornton, CO49.62148991794638
114Fontana, CA49.49701121758056
115San Antonio, TX49.469877123157142
116Murfreesboro, TN49.171391793110182
117Pembroke Pines, FL48.89541441577274
118Nashville, TN48.821081534989181
119Springfield, MO48.671821234775156
120Bakersfield, CA48.6110213483141104
121Dallas, TX48.3781105115180136
122Houston, TX48.197610970184189
123Miramar, FL48.03781581589144
124Buffalo, NY48.0217369154105113
125Moreno Valley, CA47.959088163126154
126Bridgeport, CT47.931128018914461
127Worcester, MA47.911691261243983
128Savannah, GA47.7513615050143146
129Fort Wayne, IN47.721621351263779
130Hollywood, FL47.71821708112996
131Lancaster, CA47.6563103169151133
132McAllen, TX47.633813117118148
133Glendale, AZ47.4713213312712169
134Indianapolis, IN47.451651436455183
135Lubbock, TX47.4215013613113019
136Kansas City, MO47.2217811812840135
137Birmingham, AL47.1114612739169187
138Syracuse, NY46.89158106139109144
139Port St. Lucie, FL46.8713415613811613
140St. Louis, MO46.6483163102124167
141Louisville, KY46.521881249634164
142Tulsa, OK46.48167115120106162
143Little Rock, AR46.461211618598169
144Stockton, CA46.399613917213558
145Arlington, TX46.2494129161147132
146Fort Worth, TX46.20127130149134122
147Cape Coral, FL45.9512316513512341
148Wichita, KS45.6318413714038111
149Fresno, CA45.618716015015067
150Newport News, VA45.3816015911767121
151Baton Rouge, LA45.1610118424156191
152San Bernardino, CA45.03116141143127174
153Columbus, OH45.0215314014786161
154Oklahoma City, OK44.8916314615258151
155Garland, TX44.84110120168183101
156Grand Prairie, TX44.8010614815115987
157Laredo, TX44.787212518818826
158Hialeah, FL44.4910315118215557
159Rockford, IL44.34154166132115128
160Irving, TX44.1680167159167100
161Clarksville, TN44.0718118044100158
162North Las Vegas, NV43.941741281911685
163Norfolk, VA43.621701731338497
164Philadelphia, PA43.39130147162179129
165Dayton, OH42.9519014592146143
166Amarillo, TX42.7918017213710755
167Milwaukee, WI42.52168149185112118
168Baltimore, MD42.48121168148165137
169Macon, GA42.1418715598145153
170New Orleans, LA42.0695174156176160
171Mobile, AL42.0017517666152192
172Corpus Christi, TX41.8017115714617799
173Akron, OH41.4418915216673157
174Springfield, MA41.4019211418413893
175Jacksonville, FL41.38177181112108170
176Mesquite, TX41.09140162170182145
177Paterson, NJ40.9610915418718994
178Columbus, GA40.84156177142149124
179Newark, NJ40.619717518019053
180Fayetteville, NC40.3214418894175178
181Brownsville, TX39.748818916419273
182Pasadena, TX39.72104171177185177
183Toledo, OH39.0918616919093112
184Montgomery, AL38.94151190136166166
185Shreveport, LA38.90161187125160185
186Augusta, GA38.59176191103178171
187Memphis, TN38.50157182155163179
188Killeen, TX38.20149186181171155
189Jackson, MS37.73155178153186188
190Kansas City, KS36.89183185183142173
191Cleveland, OH36.45191164186172176
192Detroit, MI31.93185192192191148
Infographic showing the Best Cities for Mental Wellness, a ranking based on access to therapists, cost of living, average sleep levels, meditation classes, and more

Highlights and Lowlights

Suburban Satisfaction

They say money can’t buy happiness — but it can pay for therapy. No wonder wealthy satellite cities landed at the top of our ranking. 

Naperville, Illinois, takes first place overall and in Financial Wellness. A small share of adults with poor mental health and low divorce rates brought this city to the top. Similar rankings lifted Pasadena, California (No. 2), Bellevue, Washington (No. 6), and Alexandria, Virginia (No. 7). These cities are full of therapists, as well as healthy, financially stable, and well-rested adults. 

Pasadena has the best access to mental health services, with more than 556 therapists per 100,000 residents. The City of Roses also boasts the most meditation classes. Naperville has the least crime (No. 1), while Alexandria is great for getting that extra boost of dopamine from biking and other exercise opportunities (No. 1).

West Coast Wellness

The laidback West Coast dominates our ranking, with Pacific cities taking up more than half of our top 20. Meditation, running, biking, yoga, and hiking are popular in this region. Movement and mindfulness can help balance hormones, reduce anxiety, and improve cognitive function.

In addition to their high scores in Physical Wellness and Mindfulness factors, Seattle (No. 3) and San Francisco (No. 5) impress with high access to therapy, green space, and sufficient sleep. Furthermore, California cities Fremont (No. 4), Irvine (No. 8), and San Diego (No. 12) have low divorce rates. Each of these five cities has low levels of poor mental health and unemployment. 

However, not all that glitters is gold: Under the serene surface, long work hours, binge drinking, and drug overdose deaths put a strain on San Fran and Seattle.

Fit Minds

Outside of our top 10 cities, Grand Rapids, Michigan (No. 38), Atlanta (No. 20), and Pittsburgh (No. 67) have the next best access to local mental health providers. 

Getting some exercise can help a lot when you can’t afford (or simply don’t have access to) mental health services. While Fort Collins, Colorado (No. 9), and Salt Lake City (No. 14) each have ample therapy access, they also have high rates of Physical Wellness (No. 3 and No. 2, respectively). 

Working long hours and getting limited sleep can be detrimental to physical and mental health. Sometimes, the best thing for your body and mind is simply to slow down and rest. Fort Collins is also the most well-rested city, followed by Bellevue, Washington; Minneapolis; and Overland Park, Kansas. Meanwhile, New York cities Syracuse and Buffalo, along with Dayton, Ohio, have the lowest average weekly work hours. 

Big-City Blues

Cities with large populations like Chicago (No. 86), Washington (No. 58), and Los Angeles (No. 43) did not fare as well as their top-ranking suburbs. 

These three cities — and New York (No. 77) — have high rates of poverty and unemployment. Residents in Chicago and Washington also suffer from higher rates of binge drinking and drug overdoses, long work hours, and poor weather. Additionally, Chicagoans and Angelenos experience higher rates of poor health, and NYC is severely lacking in access to therapists (No. 192).

At the very bottom of our ranking lie less populated cities like Detroit in last place, followed by Cleveland and Kansas City, Kansas. Each of these cities has substandard scores across the board, with particularly low access to mental health support, financial frailty, and unappealing weather.

Mental Wellness By the Numbers

Infographic showing key mental health stats like how many Americans suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, lack of sleep, and more
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Ask The Experts

Improving mental well-being can be a daunting endeavor for some, especially with the current state of the nation’s mental health care. We contacted a panel of experts to learn more about how to improve mental wellness. Read what they had to say below. 

  1. With a psychiatrist shortage and limited mental health services available in many regions, what is one of the best free ways to boost your mental health? 
  2. What is one way employers can benefit their workers’ mental well-being? 
  3. What are three most common warning signs that someone is struggling with their mental health? 
  4. What are the best first steps for someone who is considering seeking mental health treatment? What is one thing they should keep in mind or watch out for? 
  5. More than 50% of adults with mental illness do not receive treatment. What is one way that cities can make therapy and other mental health treatments more accessible? 
Jessica Borelli, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological Science, Clinical director of Compass Therapy
Amanda S. Case, Ph.D., LP
Assistant Professor
Jessica Borelli, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychological Science, Clinical director of Compass Therapy
University of California, Irvine, Department of Psychological Science

With a psychiatrist shortage and limited mental health services available in many regions, what is one of the best free ways to boost your mental health?

I think exercise is the single best free way to boost your mental health. Exercise reduces anxiety and stress, improves mood, and yields physical health benefits. People who do not exercise already often lack the motivation to start, so if you are one of these people, I recommend starting small and removing all barriers to getting started.

For example, you might want to sleep in your exercise clothes and put your shoes next to your bed (if you want to exercise first thing in the morning). Telling yourself that any amount of exercise is better than no exercise can also be helpful.

A lot of times people trip themselves up by telling themselves it isn’t worth it if the exercise does not meet a certain predetermined and arbitrary metric (e.g., 30 minutes of cardio, 10,000 steps), but the reality is that something is almost always going to be better than nothing, especially when we are talking about mental health benefits.

What is one way employers can benefit their workers’ mental well-being?

Employers can normalize mental health difficulties –– mental health problems are common. Most of us will struggle ourselves or will have someone close to us struggle with mental health difficulties during our lives.

Acknowledging that fact and encouraging employees to speak openly about mental health difficulties and emotions will help to destigmatize mental health challenges. The stigma associated with mental health difficulties adds a whole other layer of stress.

What are the three most common warning signs that someone is struggling with their mental health?

  1. Negative mood: When a person is sad, irritable, or emotionless.
  2. Social withdrawal: When a person retreats socially, doesn’t join in or want to be a part of social events or conversations, or stops attending gatherings.
  3. Functional Impairment: When a person fails to live up to their responsibilities in their work or personal life, such as showing up late to work or missing work entirely, failing to turn in assignments, missing or forgetting about major work or personal obligations, or behaving unsafely or dangerously.

What are the best first steps for someone who is considering seeking mental health treatment? What is one thing they should keep in mind or watch out for?

Many mental health providers do not accept insurance but rather generate something called Superbills. The clients are asked to pay for services upfront and then submit the Superbills to their insurance company for reimbursement (these funds go directly to them).

This approach only works for clients who have PPOs, not HMOs. If you want to go through your insurance, it will save you time to call your insurance company directly and request a list of names of mental health providers from them. You can then contact these providers to see if they have openings for new clients.

If you try to seek therapy by reaching out to therapists you find through word of mouth or therapist directories, it can be frustrating because many of these will not accept insurance or will not accept your insurance.

Many therapists have long waitlists, so it may behoove you to get on multiple waitlists at the same time. And it may be helpful to prepare for the fact that you may need to pay out of pocket if you cannot find a provider who accepts your insurance.

More than 50% of adults with mental illness do not receive treatment. What is one way that cities can make therapy and other mental health treatments more accessible?

They can provide more funding for training programs for mental health professionals. There is a huge demand for students who want to gain access to the field and become mental health professionals, but entrance into Ph.D. programs is extremely competitive (between 1-5% acceptance rates), and many students need to wait between 1-5 years post-undergraduate education in order to be competitive enough to gain admittance.

These programs are funded, while master’s level programs (MSW, LMFT, LPCC) programs typically are not funded. These unfunded master’s programs pose challenges to students who wish to become mental health providers but will have difficulty funding their education. If we as a society believe we need more mental health providers, we should help fund the graduate training of these students (through grants, fellowships, and the creation of new programs).

Amanda S. Case, Ph.D., LP
Assistant Professor
Purdue University, Educational Studies Department, College of Education

With a psychiatrist shortage and limited mental health services available in many regions, what is one of the best free ways to boost your mental health?

One of the most important things we can do to maintain or improve our mental health is to pay attention to it — in the same way we attend to how our bodies feel, we also need to take time to consider how we are doing emotionally and psychologically. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself how you’re feeling and then give yourself a moment or two to reflect on your response.

What is one way employers can benefit their workers’ mental well-being?

As the American Psychological Association has noted, a key way employers can support workers’ mental well-being is by instituting organizational policies and practices that encourage employees to “unplug.”

These policies and practices could look like separating paid vacation days from paid sick time, encouraging workers to use all of their vacation days, and having upper management model and normalize work-life balance by taking time off themselves.

What are the three most common warning signs that someone is struggling with their mental health?

Mental health challenges can manifest in an unlimited number of ways that differ from person to person, which makes it hard to identify universal indicators of mental health concerns. Given that, a useful thing to look for is any noticeable changes in people’s behavior, appearance, or demeanor.

For example, if someone typically enjoys interacting with colleagues but becomes withdrawn, it would be worthwhile to check in with them to see how they’re doing. Even if the person is not experiencing any mental health challenges, knowing people are looking out for you can help you feel cared for and connected with others.

What are the best first steps for someone who is considering seeking mental health treatment? What is one thing they should keep in mind or watch out for?

If you’re considering getting mental health treatment, way to go! Most of us can benefit from getting support at one or many points in our lives. But know that the first provider you find may or may not be a great fit for you.

Effective mental health treatment is largely about the relationship between provider and client, so don’t be afraid to shop around. If you’re able to, go to initial appointments with more than one provider and then pick the person who you feel can best support your mental health needs and goals.


For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into five categories: Mental Wellness and Access, Physical Wellness, Mindfulness and Social Wellness, Financial Wellness, and Environment.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories. We eliminated 8 cities lacking sufficient data in a single category, resulting in a final sample size of 192 cities.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 192). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 192 due to ties among cities.)

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Mental Wellness and Access
Therapists per 100,000 Residents57.79556.98Max. Value
Share of Adults with Poor Mental Health Over 2 Weeks49.3%21.2%Min. Value
Suicides per 100,000 Residents35.726.7Min. Value
Deaths from Mental and Behaviorial Disorders per 100,000 Residents35.885.2Min. Value
Physical Wellness
Share of Adult Population in Poor Health310.1%35.8%Min. Value
Insufficient Sleep Rate327.2%51.4%Min. Value
Average Weekly Work Hours234.541.6Min. Value
Drug Overdose Deaths per 100,000 Residents35124Min. Value
Binge Drinking Rate211.1%22.9%Min. Value
Yoga-Friendliness2186Min. Value
Runner-Friendliness21181Min. Value
Biking-Friendliness21200Min. Value
Hiking-Friendliness21200Min. Value
Access to Exercise Opportunities244%100%Max. Value
Premature Deaths per 100,000 Residents1194684Min. Value
Child Deaths per 100,000 Residents125105Min. Value
Mindfulness and Social Wellness
Separation and Divorce Rate26.3%19.4%Min. Value
Meditation Classes/Centers per 100,0003010.6Max. Value
Urban Gardening-Friendliness21196Min. Value
Dog Lover-Friendliness21174Min. Value
Cat Lover-Friendliness21200Min. Value
Financial Wellness
Food Insecurity Rate35%18%Min. Value
Housing Affordability Index33699Max. Value
Cost of Living Index275204Min. Value
Poverty Rate11.826.2Min. Value
Unemployment Rate11.7%8.1%Min. Value
Health Insurance Coverage Rate269.8%98.2%Max. Value
Access to Green Space110%100%Max. Value
Historical Average Amount of Sunshine242%85%Max. Value
Historical Average Monthly Rain (in Inches)10.455.4Min. Value
Median Air Quality Index225101Min. Value
Crime Index3086Max. Value
Natural Hazards Index1920Min. Value

Sources: Areavibes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Lawn Love, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Neighborhood Scout, Other LawnStarter Studies, Psychology Today, Trust for Public Land, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Yelp

Take a Mindful Moment

Social isolation, post-pandemic stress, and inflation have left the nation riddled with depression and anxiety

Fortunately, more people are getting access to mental health services than in previous years, thanks to reduced stigma and increased support. Yet many are still without access due to the current shortage of mental health professionals

Getting access to mental health counseling can be difficult, especially if your metro is lacking in therapists. Thankfully, there are plenty of online options available for you to attend a telehealth therapy session from the comfort of your home. 

There’s no simple fix to improving your mental health, but there are still some things you can do to feel better:


Mindfulness meditation can help with managing stress, depression, and anxiety. Evidence shows that meditation can help relieve pain, decrease blood pressure, and improve sleep quality. Itching for a relaxing trip? Sign up for a mindfulness retreat

Grow a garden

Get some plant friends to help cultivate your mental wellness, even if you live in a city. If you don’t have the time, energy, or will to grow a garden of your own, strolling through romantic gardens around your city can be a reviving way to spend your afternoon.

Cook something

Slowing down and taking the time to cook a meal from scratch can be a relaxing way to boost focus, confidence, and emotional well-being. Crafting a tasty, nutritious meal from ingredients in your kitchen can make you feel better physically, too. 

Rest up

It’s important to get some sleep and reset your brain. Rest is important, and lack of sleep could even worsen your mental health


Find an organization in your city that matters to you, and see if they’re taking on any new volunteers. By volunteering with them, you’ll likely meet new people, learn new skills, and gain a sense of purpose. 

Try something new

Get a dopamine boost by learning something or having a new experience. For inspiration, you could study a language, eat at a new brunch spot, or learn how to craft a DIY project.

Move your body

Whether you prefer walking, running, hiking, biking, recreational sports, or yoga, there are numerous benefits to being active. Regular exercise can alleviate depression and anxiety, improve sleep, and reduce stress. With many people working from home these days, it’s especially important to prioritize physical activity and get outside.

Mow the lawn

Yes, even mowing the lawn can improve mental well-being. Spending time in your yard getting fresh air, moving your body, and smelling freshly cut grass can help boost your mood (unless you have a grass allergy). If the yard chores are piling up and adding to your stress, hire a local LawnStarter pro to take care of them instead. 

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock


Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.