You’ll Never Guess Which Country Has the Best Mental Well-Being, According to New Data

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Sapien Labs’ fourth annual Mental State of the World Report offers a revealing glimpse into the mental health landscapes of countries worldwide, shedding light on their relative standings. Identifying three key areas of concern—smartphone usage, dietary habits and family dynamics—the report heralds the Dominican Republic as the top-ranking nation in mental wellbeing.

Securing the top spot with a Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) of 91, the Dominican Republic is closely trailed by Sri Lanka (89) and Tanzania (88). Conversely, nations like Uzbekistan scored a mere 48, the UK 49 and South Africa struggled at 50. Surprisingly, Australia ranked notably low at 54, even falling below war-torn regions like Ukraine (60) and Sudan (64). The United States achieved a score of 72, positioning itself somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.

The Smartphone Factor

Smartphone exposure was categorized as a risk factor for adverse mental health outcomes, particularly among younger demographics. Researchers found a trend among today’s 18-24-year-olds, the first generation born into a world dominated by smartphones and social media. The earlier they acquired their first smartphone, the worse their mental health outcomes were.

Health and Diet

Similarly, diets abundant in ultra-processed foods correlate with higher levels of mental distress, with affluent nations exhibiting higher consumption rates. “In summary, this suggests that greater wealth and economic development do not necessarily lead to greater mental wellbeing, but instead can foster consumption patterns and a fraying of social bonds detrimental to our ability to thrive,” the report emphasizes. “This resolutely cautions against solely fixating on economic metrics as measures of human progress and wellbeing.”

It also showed the importance of family bonds to help cope with mental health challenges. Conversely, wealthier nations report weaker family ties, signaling a disconcerting trend toward social isolation despite economic prosperity.

One takeaway is the importance of taking a break from social media and smartphones, especially for children. By limiting screen time, prioritizing a healthy diet and nurturing family bonds, we can enhance our long-term happiness and wellbeing.

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