Travel and Mental Health

People with mental health conditions travel less than other people. University College London is carrying out a survey to try to establish why this is the case and what can be done about it.

When we make a journey we need to be able to find the way. This involves several stages involving information, which we either recall from our memory or obtain from the world around us, from signposts and landmarks or from portable sources of information such as maps and mobile phone apps. We then need to put the information together and take decisions: to turn left or right, whether this is the correct bus to get me to my destination, and so on. We need to be able to cope if we get lost. We also need to be able to interact with other people on the journey, both staff such as bus drivers and our fellow travellers who may ask us questions or stand very close to us on a crowded bus.

For most people these are not difficult issues, and in making most journeys, we are not aware that we are going through these processes. However, for some people with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, making journeys can be challenging. The Life Opportunities Survey carried out by the Government’s Office for Disability Issues, shows that people with mental health conditions travel less than other people. The main reasons are anxiety and lack of confidence plus the cost of travel because many people with mental illness are not able to work full-time.

The Centre for Transport Studies at University College London is carrying out a survey on the difficulties that people with mental health conditions face when making local journeys. If you have a mental health condition, even if it has not been formally diagnosed, you are invited to take part. You can answer the questions by clicking on https://opinio.ucl.ac.uk/s?s=55885. Your answers will be anonymous, so nobody will know that you responded or be able to contact you from your answers. 

Professor Roger Mackett
University College London