Michigan ranked as ninth least happy state

Allison Ribick

A newly released study shows that Michigan is the ninth least happy state in America. Published on Wallet Hub, a financial website, “2014’s Most and Least Happy States in America” gathered its information from the United States Census Bureau and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, among other sources. The findings were based off of three categories – emotional and physical well-being, work and community and environment and recreational activities.

Michigan was ranked 39th in the recreational category, which included things such as weather ranking, divorce rate, number of children, population growth and safety.

The work category was the best for Michigan, at 30th, which included commute time, income level, work hours, job security and long-term unemployment rate.

Michigan’s downfall was its health ranking, however, since it landed at 40th. Physical and emotional health, obesity, binge drinking, life expectancy, sports participation and suicide rate were among the things studied.

Jill Gonzalez, a Wallet Hub spokesperson, further explained the findings related to Michigan.

“Michigan had the 10th highest amount of heart attacks last year, which brought it down in the emotional and physical well-being category,” Gonzalez said. “About 21 percent of Michigan residents answered that they had some form of depression too.”

The study found that health was more of a factor in happiness than wealth.

With this information in mind, Grand Valley State University offers many resources and services, such as the Counseling Center, for students who are feeling depressed or unsatisfied with their lives.

The Counseling Center works to help students find out the roots of their depression and suggests clubs to join for support.

Mark Sampson, associate director and director of clinical services at the Counseling Center, encourages students to walk through the door.

“I can’t tell you how many people are like, ‘This is not what I expected,’” Sampson said. “If we can just get people to come through the door and talk to us, they will see.”

A sense of community and making sure students’ feel like they belong can have a huge impact on their emotional state. The Women’s Center, the LGBT Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs are departments that the Counseling Center often refers students to in order to make sure they feel connected to the wider community. Intramural sports and clubs play a part in community as well.

Sampson noted the significance of support groups and their impact.

“Groups can be fantastic to sit and share our experiences with other people,” he said. “It can be a normalizing experience.”

GVSU students may also attend events and programs that offer stress relief and guidance.

As a part of the Counseling Center’s outreach program, there are Play Days in the middle of each semester that remind students to take a break once in a while. The event will happen in the Kirkhof Lounge and Lawn from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 6 and will include games and activities.

For students who are curious as to whether they are suffering from depression or anxiety and would like more information, Depression Screening Day is on Oct. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Counseling Center staff will be at various locations such as the Kirkhof Center, the Fieldhouse and the DeVos Center, to help students have a better understanding of what they are going through. Screenings are free and private.

For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/counsel.