Mental illness is the largest single cause of disability in the UK. The economic and social costs in England are estimated at around £105 billion a year’1
Mental health is beyond doubt one of the most important issues of our times and successive governments have made clear statements of commitment to tackling the problems that poor mental health engenders both in individuals’ lives and in society as a whole. There has been an increased drive to improve social inclusion for those whose illness can so easily create barriers between them and their community. Given that public transport plays such a significant role in social inclusion it is surprising to find very little research about the relationship between good access to public transport and good mental health. Public transport is not, for example, generally recognised as being an integral part of a person’s ability to recover from a mental health crisis. But have we overlooked its importance for too long? Just how vital a part does it play and what barriers do those with less visible disabilities such as a mental illness experience? This report seeks to address that deficit and examine both the importance of public transport and its accessibility. Drawn from the direct experience of sufferers from across the country it provides a compelling insight into this important subject.
Importance of Public Transport
The evidence produced from this survey speaks loud and clear. It tells us that access to public transport is a key determinant in a person’s chances of achieving maximum recovery and being part of their community. 83% of respondents said it was ‘very important’ to their mental health. It has the potential to ‘liberate’ a person from the downward spiral of poor mental health, social isolation, poor life opportunities and to engage them with education, cultural opportunities, voluntary employment and paid employment. Respondents tell us that such opportunities are crucial to their ultimate recovery and without being able to access public transport they simply cannot achieve it.