Gender, mental health and travel

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - bus, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, ridership - behaviour, place - europe, planning - surveys, planning - signage/information, policy - equity


Gender, Mental health, Travel, Anxiety, Panic attacks, Wayfinding


This paper examines gender differences in travel behaviour by people with mental health conditions based on the results of an on-line survey. Responses from 363 people have been weighted by figures from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 to make them representative of the population with mental illness in England. The evidence from the surveys presented in this paper shows that more women than men have panic attacks, but that more men than women have communication difficulties. More women than men are prevented by their mental health condition from leaving home, using bus, rail and metro and from buying rail tickets in advance. Significantly more women than men suffered from the following anxieties when travelling: the need for support, wayfinding, interacting with fellow travellers and concerns about the failure of the bus, train or car. For women, the greatest need seems to be policies and actions that will increase their confidence when travelling such as access to staff when assistance is required and clear information when travelling, plus the opportunity to receive travel training. More men than women wanted improvements to the travelling environment, such as less clutter on the street. Summing up, implementing improvements to increase confidence when travelling could help to reduce gender inequalities.


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