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Mental Wellbeing Index: These are the Best Countries for Positive Mental Wellbeing

Our mental wellbeing affects how we think, feel and act on a daily basis. Being well is more than just fighting off disease and the latest mental health revolution reflects that. Here at Soul Sanctuaries we’re receiving more requests from clients looking for better life balance and coping mechanisms for stress, who are willing to embrace holistic health. We want our clients to live with more vitality and joy, so we create healthy holidays which make them feel better physically, mentally and spiritually – both while on retreat with us and well after they return home.

We know that our key destinations of Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia and India are some of the very best countries in the world for overall wellness, but we were curious to get a little bit more scientific with the facts and figures by conducting an analysis of the best countries to live in for positive mental wellbeing.

That’s where our brand new Mental Wellbeing Index comes in!

For our study we examined an array of important factors which contribute to mental wellbeing, including sunshine, social life, nature and levels of happiness and mental wellbeing in every country, to find out the best places to live for positive mental wellness.

Coming out in the top spot was the United Arab Emirates, while our popular destination of Indonesia scored in second place and Mongolia in third place.

Read on below to see the full results and find out more about the research.




The United Arab Emirates scored so well thanks to its incredibly high number of sunshine hours on average across the year – which sits at a staggering 3508.7, which is just under half the number of hours in a year!

The country also scored highly for the attractiveness of natural assets, which is unsurprising when you consider this is the place that’s home to the Jebel Dhanna, an area of several mountains and beautifully scenic sea cliffs.

Following the UAE, the top 10 countries are:

  1. Indonesia
  2. Mongolia
  3. Kenya
  4. Thailand
  5. Israel
  6. Iceland
  7. Malta
  8. Canada
  9. USA

We were thrilled to see Indonesia place second, earning the recognition it deserves as a place of spiritual and mental wellbeing. It also came 7th in the World Giving Index – which ranks countries based on how charitable they are – and ranked within the top 20 most sociable countries.

The archipelago of Indonesia is home to over 17,500 islands, many of them picture postcard perfect, with a slower pace of life. Sublime for those who wish to exhale and reconnect with nature. On the island of Java, rests the world’s largest Buddhist monument, Borobudur, whose reliefs depict a peaceful and balanced way of life.

Mystical Bali has long been home to soul seekers on yoga retreats and those in search of Balinese healing. A largely Hindu population, spiritual ceremonies are a part of daily life and locals abide by a philosophy of life called ‘Tri Hita Karina’, roughly translated as the ‘three causes of wellbeing’; harmony amongst people, the environment and God.

Also placing in the top 5 was our fantastic destination of Thailand, which is home to some of the world’s leading and most well-established luxury health and wellness retreats. This isn’t surprising, as it’s a country that literally has it all: powdery, white sand beaches, Buddhist philosophy, sacred temples, and divine Thai massage. Thailand also ranked in the top 20 for attractiveness of natural assets, and how aesthetically pleasing the country is, as a whole, to live in.

Another Soul Sanctuaries destination which scored well was Vietnam, which came third for good mental health; only 1.39% of the population reported suffering from mental health issues, which included depression and anxiety. This stunning sliver of a country, on the Eastern side of the Indo-Chinese peninsula, offers an opportunity to explore lesser trodden paths, practice yoga and Tai Chi, and sample ancient healing treatments.


To compile the Mental Wellbeing Index, we looked at various datasets in order to assess the mental wellbeing of each country, across a variety of different factors associated with mental health. The elements we found to be important were:

  • Mental Health
  • Happiness
  • Sunshine Hours
  • Social Life
  • Nature
  • Kindness

For each of the above categories, we scored each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) and added these scores together in order to get our final MWBI score, with a total of 30 being the highest available. We then ranked the countries based on their total scores.

Where there was a tie in the MWBI score, the mental health score was used as a final ranking factor.

The full dataset is available upon request.

Spotlight on Bhutan

One country which we were unable to gather all of the relevant data for was Bhutan.

While we weren’t able to include Bhutan in this ranking it is most certainly one of the top countries we would recommend for positive mental health. Visitors travel with us to Bhutan to explore spirituality, hike, practice yoga, receive traditional spa treatments and visit ancient monasteries.

Bhutan is an incredibly unique place in that it prides itself on GNH (that’s Gross National Happiness) rather than GDP.

GNH was a concept introduced back in 1972 by King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the fourth king of Bhutan. This new concept was a commitment to creating an economy which served Bhutan’s unique cultures and values, based on the spirituality of Buddhism.

The idea behind GNH is that development should be measured on a holistic basis of quality of life, where material and spiritual development occur side by side.

There are four main pillars of GNH, these are:

-Promotion of sustainable development

-Preservation and promotion of cultural values

-Conservation of the natural environment

-Establishment of good governance

Bhutan’s commitment to GNH over traditional economic measurements is a clear indication of the holistic wellness values of the country.

Our research also determined a variety of other elements which make Bhutan such a great country for mental wellbeing.

Only 1.68% of the population reported suffering from a mental illness, which is below the worldwide average of 15.5%, and the country came 30th for attractiveness of natural assets. It also came 18th in the World Giving Index, which calculates how kind the population of each country typically is.










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