Thinking of moving abroad? Prioritising mental health has never been more critical than it is now, especially if you’re planning on relocating and becoming an expat. However, this is easier in some places than others and may depend on the availability of international health insurance around the world, among other factors.
But which are the countries with the best mental healthcare in the world? To answer the question we analysed a number of countries on factors relating to promoting psychological wellbeing including work-life balance, the environment and government spending on mental health care. Want to find out what other places made the list? Take a look at the full findings below, mapped.
What are the countries with the best mental healthcare in the world?
According to World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is “a state of wellbeing in which a person is able to recognize his or her own strengths, cope with normal health pressure, work hard and contribute to society”. This definition demonstrates that mental healthcare is important not just for individuals, but for the whole community around us.
Mental healthcare directly influences mental health rates by country and is an important factor for society. Recently, the mental state has become closely linked to the physical state. Governments around the world started to notice that mental healthcare plays a big role in their people’s happiness level. It is closely connected to the economical state of the country: four out of five people with mental illness don’t receive treatment because they have low- or middle-income. That’s why we have analysed the best places to live for mental health.
We wanted to investigate how easy it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and look after your wellbeing in different parts of the world. Is there a perfect place for mental healthcare? And are there any countries that have succeeded in looking after the mental health of their citizens?
What makes these places the countries with the best mental healthcare in the world?
We analysed a list of OECD countries on a number of different factors relating to positive mental health in each country. Each country was given a normalised score out of ten for each factor, before taking an average across all the factors to reach our final score out of ten. Thus, there is an urgent need to address this huge problem. Factors include:
- Hours devoted to leisure and personal care
- The average number of hours per day spent on leisure and personal care
- The most green spaces
- Average temperature
- Average rainfall
- Government spending on mental health
Where are the best places to live for mental health?
|Rank||Country||Long Hours||Leisure Time||Green Spaces||Avg Temp (°C)||Avg Rainfall (mm)||Govt Mental Health Spend||Rank Score|
What are the top three countries with the best mental healthcare in the world?
Positive mental wellbeing score: 7.13 out of 10
Sweden tops our positive mental health index, and with good reason. The Nordic nation ranked high for the percentage of green space, as it plays host to lush coniferous forests that take up the majority of its land providing the perfect environment for relaxation and mental wellbeing.
Sweden also scored highly in terms of work-life balance, with only 1.1% of Swedes working very long hours.
Positive mental wellbeing score: 6.6 out of 10
Coming second is Europe’s economic powerhouse Germany. The central European nation works hard to remove the stigma from mental illnesses, providing an extensive support network and programmes to help integrate people with mental illnesses into society. As a result, the country ranks in the top 3 for government expenditure on mental health services.
The Germans aren’t overworked either, as it also ranks in the top 5 for most time devoted to personal care and leisure.
Positive mental wellbeing score: 6.47 out of 10
Known for being one of the happiest countries in the world, Finland takes third in our positive mental health rankings. The second Nordic country on our list has high scores for the environmental factors we looked at, taking the top spot for the proportion of green spaces and ranking in the top 5 for least rainfall too. Added to this, Finland has a healthy work-life balance, ranking in the top 10 for both least employees working long hours and most time devoted to leisure.
What are the best countries for work-life balance in the world?
1/ The Netherlands (0.40%)
Work-related stress isn’t a problem in the Netherlands as almost half the population work part-time. This means that just 0.4% of the population work very long hours, tying with Switzerland for first place.
2/ Switzerland (0.40%)
In joint first is Switzerland, the country has a strong work-life balance thanks to its generous policies on parental leave, childcare benefits and holiday pay. As a result, the Swiss don’t have to worry about burnout that can happen from overwork.
3/ Sweden (1.1%)
Coming in second is Sweden. The Scandinavian country can boast that only 1.1% of its working population clock in for more than 50 hours a week. This could be a result of the recently adopted 6-hour workday and the flexibility many Swedish citizens are allowed when it comes to adjusting work hours to their lifestyle.
Where people devote most time to leisure and personal care in the world?
1/ Italy (16.5 hours)
Taking the top spot for hours devoted to leisure and personal care is Italy with 16.5 hours. With a slower pace of life workers in Italy often take 2 hours for lunch and devote much of their free time to their families.
2/ France (16.4 hours)
Taking second place, France has a maximum working week of 35 hours,
as well as the right to disconnect, a law requiring larger companies to not send or receive emails in off-hours. With this level of legislation for workers, it’s no surprise they have an average of 16.4 hours daily to relax and recuperate.
3/ The Netherlands (16.1 hours)
In third place, the Dutch devote just over 16 hours to personal care and leisure pursuits as companies encourage employees to work flexibly. This can take the form of a compressed workweek or flexible hours leaving them with more leisure time.
What are the countries with the most green spaces in the world?
1/ Finland (73.7%)
Being in nature can have many psychological benefits and Finland tops the list with 73.7% of its land devoted to its green spaces. This is thanks to its lush green woodlands, vast swathes of which are still untouched by human activity.
2/ Sweden (68.7%)
Taking second place is Finland’s neighbour Sweden. With over two-thirds of its land covered by trees, the country has doubled its green space over the last hundred years, providing the perfect locations for Swedes to relax in nature.
3/ Japan (68.4 %)
Japan takes third place for green space, with nearly 70% of its land taken up by tree cover. Japan’s mild and humid climate provides the perfect conditions for growing trees, giving Japanese people plenty of opportunities to destress by connecting with the wilderness.
Weather in the countries with best mental healthcare in the world: average temperature
They say that happiness is more strongly affected by current temperature than by average temperature over the day, however, it is still important for your mood and overall feeling of joy.
1/ Brazil (25 ºC)
The first South American country on our list, Brazil has the highest average temperature at a blistering 25 ºC, 4 degrees warmer than Australia in second place. Temperature can also have an impact on your mental health, with hotter temperatures boosting your mood.
2/ Australia (21 ºC)
Surprisingly for a country that holds many records related to its heat, Australia ranks second in average temperature at 21ºC. The country’s warm climate is thanks to its proximity to the equator.
3/ Israel (19.2 ºC)
In terms of average temperature, Israel takes third place with 19.2 ºC. Temperatures in the Mediterranean country can reach as high as 40ºC in the summer months and has a long period of clear skies from May to September.
Weather in the countries with best mental healthcare in the world: average rainfall
1/ Israel (435mm per year)
Rainfall is another factor that can play a role in your mental health, as cloudy days can leave you with a low mood. In this regard, Israel tops our ranking, the Middle Eastern nation on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean has an average of only 435mm of rainfall per year.
2/ South Africa (495 mm per year)
South Africa’s lack of rainfall is a result of its arid climate and cool seas. For this reason, it comes second in our rankings, with an average rainfall of 495 mm per year.
3/ Australia (534 mm per year)
Coming third is Australia, which isn’t surprising as it was also second for average temperature. The Oceanic country has an average rainfall of 534 mm per year thanks to its arid climate.
What are the countries with the most government spending on mental healthcare in the world?
1/ France (15%)
A higher level of state funding for mental health services is critical for providing helplines for those struggling with their mental well-being. France has the highest level of healthcare spending, dedicating 15% of its mental healthcare budget to psychiatric hospitals.
2/ Norway (13.5%)
In the second place, the Nordic nation of Norway spends 13.5% of its mental health budget on psychiatric hospitals. With an estimated 50% of Norwegians suffering from a mental health problem in their lifetime, it’s no surprise this country allocates such a substantial amount to mental health services.
3/ Germany (11.3%)
Taking third is Germany with 11.3% of its mental health budget allocated to psychiatric hospitals. The country has a high level of commitment to finding and treating the mentally ill, as well as providing financial assistance and an extensive support network, so it’s no surprise Germany’s budget is one of the largest on our list.
Wherever you move, go with total peace of mind
With awareness of mental health issues now more prevalent than ever before and the mounting pressures of everyday life, it’s becoming increasingly important for you to take care of your psychological well being. From making changes to our diets to carving out more time for self-care, many of us are now taking active steps in an effort to improve our overall health and wellbeing. Investment in mental healthcare is highly likely to add to average happiness.
At William Russell, we have nearly 30 years of helping expatriates find the best places in the world to move abroad and settle into their new lives overseas by providing world-class international health insurance with mental health cover. Plus, we produce lots of expert material to help you and your family adapt to life abroad.
Looking for international health insurance?Learn more about our plans
Employees working very long hours
The percentage of employees working fifty hours a week or more, according to the OECD Better Life Index.
Hours devoted to leisure and personal care
The average number of hours per day spent on leisure and personal care, including sleeping and eating according to the OECD Better Life Index.
The most green spaces
The forest area of a country, as a percentage of its land area, according to the World Bank.
The average annual temperature in each country according to World Population Review.
The average annual precipitation, in mm per year in each country according to the World Bank.
Government spending on mental health
Government expenditures on mental hospitals as a percentage of total government expenditures on mental health according to the World Health Organization’s mental health governance data by country.
Full data set is available here.