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The world’s best cities for mental wellbeing, according to data crunchers


Low pollution levels, strong social security structures and political stability helped Reykjavik, Bern and Helsinki to top the rankings. The index was launched to ‘show what cities can achieve for their citizens’

It’s a notoriously expensive city, with bleak weather galore and unpredictable volcanoes grunting nearby. Nonetheless, Reykjavik, Iceland’s tiny capital, has topped a new index, ranking the world’s best cities for mental well-being.

This analysis is, of course, a complicated matter. The data analyzers behind the index used various data sources to report their findings, including: crime levels, gender equality and minorities, population density, air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion, unemployment rates, power local purchasing power, social security structures and the government’s response to the pandemic.

More than 500 cities were evaluated. Those without reliable data were eliminated, leaving only 100 cities, of which Reykjavik came out on top. Bern in Switzerland and Helsinki, the Finnish capital, ranked second and third respectively. Liverpool was the only city in the UK to be in the top 20 (number 11); London ranked a humble 69.

The data was processed by researchers in VAAY, a German brand of CBD and wellness. Its co-founder, Finn Age Hänsel, said the aim of the research was “to show what cities can achieve for their citizens through effective governance, sound environmental policies and well-resourced social welfare systems.”

“The goal is not to highlight cities that may be left behind in any of these areas, but to highlight those that are outstanding examples of what can be done to improve the well-being of their inhabitants,” he said.

“We hope the study results serve as a useful barometer for cities and citizens to re-evaluate their environments and work together to develop cities that are less stressful places to live.”

The best cities in the world

Despite the gloomy weather and cost of living, Reykjavik prevailed. Image: Einar H Reynis

Reykjavik has been the subject of several articles for Positive News recently. This week we reported on the city’s pioneering test of a four-day workweek, which analysts described as an “overwhelming success”. In fact, it was deemed so successful that most of Iceland now works reduced hours.

The city has also led the way in efforts to promote participatory democracy Y reduce substance abuse among teens. Meanwhile, the nation as a whole was named last week the most peaceful country in the world. It has also been presented as a model of progress when it comes to gender equality, and is leader in the field of geothermal energy.

The 20 best cities in the world for mental well-being, according to VAAY

  1. Reykjavik, Iceland
  2. Bern, Switzerland
  3. Helsinki, Finland
  4. Wellington, New Zealand
  5. Melbourne, Australia
  6. Oslo, Norway
  7. Copenhagen, denmark
  8. Innsbruck, Austria
  9. Hannover, germany
  10. Graz, Austria
  11. Liverpool, United Kingdom
  12. Montreal Canada
  13. Vienna, Austria
  14. Auckland, New Zealand
  15. Amsterdam, Holland
  16. Montevideo, Uruguay
  17. Zurich, Switzerland
  18. Cologne, Germany
  19. Sydney, australia
  20. Stockholm, Switzerland

Main image: Helsinki city center. Credit: Tapio Haaja



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