Rutherford County has Low Mental Health Vulnerabilities

Apr 03, 2024 at 06:06 pm by WGNS News

Above: Research and Practice Panel


The State Collaborative On Reforming Education (SCORE) and NashvilleHealth hosted more than 200 community, education and mental health leaders this week to explore ways to address challenges facing student mental health and its impact on educational outcomes in Tennessee.

According to information released at the event, Middle Tennessee has the complexities of urban inequities which emerge starkly in NASHVILLE. Davidson County has a moderate-high mental health vulnerability, but the Nashville metro region contains extreme divergences—from three of the ten most vulnerable areas in Middle Tennessee to the fifth least vulnerable.

The 2024 report stated, “At the county level, all of RUTHERFORD COUNTY, home to Murfreesboro, appears to be doing well—it’s not far from the top ten least vulnerable counties in the state. But a closer look reveals that zip codes in this county run the full gamut from high vulnerability to low, with all stops in between.”

Rutherford County has low mental health vulnerabilities as a whole and is ranked near the bottom, with higher ranking numbers signaling a positive. Rutherford County had a score of 83 on the list of 95 Tennessee counties. The mental well-being index is sitting at 0.137, while the physical environment ranking is sitting at .726 in the Murfreesboro / Smyrna area. In comparison, Hancock County, ranked as the most vulnerable county in the state, holds a mental well-being index score of 1 and the physical environment ranking is also ranked at 1.



Williamson County was at the bottom of the list at 95. The information from the report confirmed the Franklin, Brentwood area is the least mentally vulnerable place to be in the Volunteer State.

With nearly one in four Tennessee youth dealing with at least one of the 10 most common mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral problems, the “Connecting the Dots: Mental Health and Student Success in Tennessee” symposium held at Lipscomb University, provided a platform for stakeholders to share innovative programs, best practices and student-lived experiences. It also highlighted research gaps concerning the impact of mental health services on state education outcomes and included the release of the Belmont Data Collaborative’s new county-level data on mental well-being vulnerabilities in Tennessee.

“Today we hope to inspire and connect state and national organizations working on research and programs supporting positive student mental health to elevate bright spots and highlight evidence-based work that could contribute to Tennessee programs,” said Senator Bill Frist, M.D., founder and board chairman of NashvilleHealth and SCORE said.

 The Belmont Data Collaborative’s Connecting the Dots: Mental Health and Student Success in Tennessee report, which was produced in partnership with SCORE and NashvilleHealth, created a Mental Well-Being Index for communities across all 95 counties in the state. Findings include:

  • At the county level, mental health vulnerability in Tennessee clusters in the eastern and western parts of the state.

  • The three most vulnerable counties in the state are Hancock, Lake and Haywood.

  • The most vulnerable zip codes in the state are in Memphis and Chattanooga.

“We hope this research motivates stakeholders to take action to help address the crisis around mental health and student success in Tennessee, and that it is a catalyst to continue conversations that lead to lasting change for our state and for our young people,” said Catherine Bass, director of the Belmont Data Collaborative.

“We recognize this crisis is too big for just one group or policymaker to solve,” Senator Frist said. “It cannot solely rest on the shoulders of schools, parents or health-care providers. It demands collective recognition and action from all of us to address this pressing issue.”

In addition to new data from the Belmont Data Collaborative, the event highlighted the Sycamore Institute’s latest report, Child Mental Health Programs and Services in Tennessee. The symposium also included panel discussions on topics such as “Identifying Mental Health Needs in Education” and “Tennessee’s Approach to Supporting Student Mental Health and Well-Being."

Featured speakers included representatives from state and national organizations such as the Belmont Data Collaborative, BRIDGES USA, Communities in Schools, Harvard University, The Jed Foundation, Sandy Hook Promise, The Sycamore Institute, and Vanderbilt University. Laura Morton, writer, producer, and co-director of the award-winning documentary Anxious Nation served as the keynote speaker. The event also featured the opportunity for attendees to engage with Sergeant Bo, the Metro Nashville Police Department’s school therapy dog. See the full list of speakers and learn more about our event on our website. 

About SCORE - The State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) believes all Tennessee students deserve success. SCORE supports a unified and coordinated approach to education — from kindergarten through postsecondary — focused on helping all students complete high school and postsecondary education, earning the diplomas and credentials needed for a rewarding career. An independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy and research institution, SCORE was founded in 2009 by Senator Bill Frist, M.D., former U.S. Senate Majority Leader. SCORE measures success by the academic growth and achievement of Tennessee’s students. Learn more at


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