High depression rates in Utah have left many up to speculation. Most students agree that aspects of Utah’s culture are to blame. Randyl Nielson/UVU Review

The state of Utah is ranked number one in depression, according to a study by Mental Health American.

Dr. Jack Jensen and Dr. Cameron John wanted to find out why, and students here became the focus of their study.

Jensen, director of psychological services on campus, and John, a Psychology professor, used Utah’s high depression ranking as part of a study of depression rates among students. They wanted to see the role four factors played in depression here: toxic perfectionism, religious culture, low rate of smoking, drinking and drugs and high early-age marriage rates.


One thousand students responded to their 74-question survey online and on Sept. 22, they gave a lecture in which they discussed the results of their study. For one thing, they discussed similarities and differences in male and female subjects.

John’s results showed that 65 percent of males and 66.5 percent  females showed signs of depression, but only 38.8 percent  of males and 61.2 percent  of females had been diagnosed.

“There was no significant difference between males and females and their experience of depression,” John said.

John broke down the 72 questions into a series of factors that could determine depression based off the score on the survey. The final seven factors were spirituality, age, exhaustion, competency, organization, internally imposed standards and externally imposed standards.

John thinks perfectionism is high in Utah because it is a cultural experience adapted around a religion. When asked how to avoid depression, John responded simply.

“Learn a really cool word called ‘no.’ ”

John thinks that by saying ‘no,’ students can achieve a balance in life because they are already maxed out from school, work and having a social life.

John realizes the studies are not exact and are limited because the sample was only taken from 1,000 students. Follow-up studies will be conducted, in hopes to discover the relationship between gender and depression, as well as examining internally and externally imposed standards using the new information from this test for a continually study.