Mental health has received increased attention in the last few years, and has been at the centre of recent policies. However, despite this progress the extent to which mental health difficulties can impact day to day life and necessary tasks such as travel has still received insufficient attention. Research relating to the impact of physical impairments on travel, and the policies developed to address these issues has become widespread. However the impact that mental health difficulties can have on both driver behaviour and travel, or that transport systems can have on mental health is still under-documented. To address this TRL undertook a review with the aim of identifying and understanding more clearly the nature of the relationship between mental health and transport. The review highlighted the extent of the relationship between mental health and transport, with evidence that mental health difficulties can influence both driver behaviour and travel mode choice, as well evidence as to the impact that transport systems can have on mental health. The review also highlighted significant limitations within the published literature, including the scarcity of UK based research and the prevalence of research with clinical samples. The absence of community based research limits our understanding of the nature of the relationship between mental health and transport and consequently our ability to develop relevant interventions and solutions.
To start addressing these gaps TRL has carried out a two-part research program aiming to engage with members of the general public to understand their personal experiences while travelling on the UKs transport network. The objectives of this study were two-fold: firstly to gain a better understanding of the relationships between mental health and transport by engaging with members of the general public and exploring their own experiences; and secondly to understand the factors that influence travel mode choice and examine how these vary between groups of people with varying levels of mental health difficulties.