The best countries for mental wellbeing

Hannah Norton

Nov 27, 2023

As a team of experts dedicated to helping Australians compare health insurance policies, we have a strong interest in the wellbeing of the population. Not just physically, but emotionally, too. With that in mind, we were particularly interested in uncovering the nations that are best for one’s mental wellbeing.

To find this out, we investigated the number of psychiatrists, health expenditure, happiness scores, work-life balance, and alcohol consumption in countries across the globe to find which are better for one’s mental health.

Here’s what we found.

The top 10 countries for mental wellbeing revealed

The results are in, and our research has revealed how Scandinavian countries have led the way for mental health.

Switzerland took the crown as the best nation for mental wellbeing, with a total score of 4.28. After that was Finland in second place (3.96), Norway in third place (3.87), the United States in fourth place (3.51), and it was New Zealand that took fifth spot on the leaderboard (3.27).

Then came Austria, with a total score of 3.25, with Denmark (3.21), Canada (3.20), and the Netherlands (3.18) not too far behind. But in 10th place was Germany, with a total score of 3.15. This was relatively surprising, considering its positive worldwide status and the ‘happy living’ offered in cities like Berlin.

Table showing the ten best countries for mental wellbeing.

Australia didn’t make the top 10

Unfortunately, Australia didn’t make the top 10. In fact, it ranked 16th overall! This suggests that we need to invest more in healthcare and our people to increase wellbeing. What our research showed was that Australia was similar to many other countries in the top 10 for work-life balance, with a score of 14.36 for this factor, and a happiness score of just over seven (7.09).

However, it was the lack of green space that pushed us further down the list, with a lower amount of green space (17.4%) compared to the top best countries for mental health. For instance, Finland has a startling amount of green space (73.7%) – and we all know that getting out in green space has brilliant benefits for our mental health. This is proven by our research, too, which suggested the more greenery available in a country, the better your mental health.

The countries investing the most in healthcare

By governments investing money into mental health, it can gradually decrease the stigma around it. This is excellent, as the stigma associated with mental health can prevent people who are suffering from seeking the help and support that they need. Some international research suggests that on average, around 10-12% of all healthcare spending can be attributable to mental health issues.1

So, it’s great to see countries like Switzerland and the United States spending nearly AU$20,000 (per capita) on healthcare ($16,083 and $18,256 respectively), on which a portion would be directly contributed to mental healthcare. This is something we need to learn from here in Australia, where the per capita spend is just $9,206.

The same can be said for Finland, with a government which only invests around $7,373 per capita.

Tips for improving your mental health

These are our best tips for improving your mental health and wellbeing:

Seek therapy

Therapy is a great way to manage your mental health, as you’ll have access to a trained psychologist who can help reduce any negative thoughts and change how you approach situations. Speaking to someone is so important, especially someone who can give you the tools to take positive steps for your mental health.

Reducing alcohol intake

Alcohol causes chemical changes in your brain that can transform into negative feelings, like sadness, anger, anxiety, and depression. If you notice feeling down after drinking, swap your favourite brand of gin for a non-alcoholic version, or a can of soft drink. There are so many alternatives these days, you can enjoy the taste of alcohol without the negative, and potentially damaging, side effects!

Practise mindful meditation

Set an alarm on your phone to practise mindful meditation every day. This will hugely impact on your state of mind. But what is mindful meditation? It can be as simple as stretching your body and completing breathing exercises. And it’s effective because it gives your mind a break from the potential chaos that enters your everyday life. There are great, free apps out there you can use to help with this, such as Mind and Headspace.

Take greener holidays

With green space seemingly having a big impact on our mental health, proven by our findings, your next break should be somewhere filled with parks, lakes or even forestry!

Get plenty of Vitamin D

Vitamin D does wonders for the immune system and introduces happy hormones to our body. For this reason, it’s important to ensure your Vitamin D levels are high enough.

Travel to a sunny country – which could even be one of our best mental health countries. Alternatively, take vitamin D supplements to keep your brain happy.

Allow yourself a break

The mind can get carried away with the now, and prevent us from planning for the future. But mental health worsens when you’ve not taken a break. So whether you want a weekend away in Sydney, a flight over to New Zealand or just a day off doing nothing, make sure you allow time to do that. Sit down and make a list of the places you want to go and check your calendar for your availability.

Do some form of exercise everyday

Exercising every day helps your mental health. But this does not mean you need to go on a run – take slow walks on your lunch break or go swimming as an alternative. Do everything at your own pace and enjoy the benefits that come with it.

Lana Hambilton, Head of Health Insurance for Compare the Market, explained how health insurance can be another great resource to support your mental wellbeing journey.

“In Australia, private health insurance can help to provide additional support when it comes to your mental health and wellbeing,” Ms Hambilton said.

“An extras policy that includes psychology can pay a benefit towards appointments with a recognised psychologist, while an eligible hospital policy can contribute towards the cost of inpatient psychiatric services, for example.

“Some private health insurance policies can also help to support healthy lifestyle habits. Depending on your policy inclusions, you may be able to claim a benefit on eligible gym memberships when it is part of a health management plan, as well as nutritionist appointments, quit smoking courses, and more. With private health insurance contributing financially to reduce the cost of such services, you can put more focus on improving your wellbeing.”

To compare a range of health insurance policies in Australia, you can use our free online comparison tool, which can help you find a policy that suits your needs and budget.

If you’re seeking help with your mental health, is a great resource.


This dataset ranked 25 countries, based on how good they are for mental health support. To do this, six different factors were used. Once the data for the factors was collected, the factors were then normalised, to provide each factor with a score between 0 and 1. If data was not available, a score of 0 was given. The normalised values were then summed, to give each location a total score out of six. The countries were then ranked from highest to lowest, based on their total scores.

The factors used are as follows:

  • Psychiatrists – The number of psychiatrists per 10,000 people. Sourced from WHO, with some data sourced from a separate WHO resource.
  • Government Health Expenditure – Health expenditure per capita. Sourced from WHO.
  • Happiness Score – Average happiness score across 2020-2022. Sourced from World Happiness Report.
  • Work-Life Balance – The amount of hours each day devoted to leisure and personal care. This includes eating & sleeping. Sourced from OECD.
  • Green Space – The percentage of total land area that is covered by forests, as of 2022. Sourced from The Global Economy.
  • Alcohol Consumption – Average alcohol consumption per capita, per year in litres. Sourced from World Population Review.

The factors were indexed as follows:

  • Psychiatrists – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Government Health Expenditure – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Happiness Score – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Work-Life Balance – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Green Space – High values get a high score. Low values get a low score.
  • Alcohol Consumption – High values get a low score. Low values get a high score.

Other sources:

  1. National Library of Medicine – Psychiatry in Switzerland

All data is correct as of 02/10/23. The ranking data shown is a compilation of multiple data sources and may not be representative of real life. All data is accurate with regard to the sources provided. A conversion rate of 1.56 AUD = 1 USD was used to convert between AUD and USD.