Mental health issues: out and about
To keep your mental health in good shape, getting out and about, socialising with friends and family and participating in a wide range of activities can be really helpful. By being socially active and spending time with people, you may stop yourself from experiencing the feelings of loneliness and isolation that are common amongst people with mental health issues.
Travelling with a mental health condition may require careful and creative problem solving. Lack of understanding is just one of the barriers we face, so this guide has been designed to provide clear direction for before, after and during travel to ensure a trouble-free trip.
Flying (and why planning isn’t optional)
As airlines disability facilities and services vary widely, it is worth doing some research before you decide which airline to use. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when travelling by air.
- On booking your flight, remember to notify the airline that you are disabled, particularly if you require special assistance.
- If you prefer an aisle seat, remember to book it in advance to make life easier.
- At least 48 hours before your flight departs, make sure you contact the airline asking for special assistance, should you need it.
- At flight check-in, be sure to tell the ticket agent that you requested special assistance. In doing this, you will receive extra help at security, miss long queues (there have to be some perks!) and will receive assistance at the gate.
Travelling by train
Rail travel is now one of the most accessible means of transport for anyone with a disability. With the right information, planning and know-how, travelling by train can be hassle free.
To start off, it is useful to identify the barriers that might affect your journey and then consider if you require passenger assistance. If you do, you should book at least 24 hours prior to your journey.
If you are unsure which train company you need, take a look at the National Rail’s list of Stations and Destinations and then visit the National Rail Service page for Information for disabled passengers and passenger assistance. Alternatively, you can call National Rail Enquiries on 0345 748 4950.
To book passenger assistance, simply navigate to the Support and Information section on the contact page of the train company you have selected. Once there, scroll down to Assisted Travel to retrieve the relevant contact details. When you're on the phone to them, be sure to outline your requirements clearly.
If you would rather contact the rail company online, visit the Disabled Persons Railcard website and look for the "Book Assistance for Future Journey" button on the page.
Taking the bus
The bus business is experiencing a boom these days, perhaps due to attractive fares and schedules. You may be eligible for a free bus pass—check with your local council to find out. For further details on this scheme, visit the GOV.UK site and go to the section on Transport if you're disabled, where you'll find details on cars, buses and coaches.
How do I apply for a bus pass? Simply contact your local council to find out who issues disabled bus passes. To apply for a disabled person's bus pass you first need to identify the appropriate local authority. Go to the Directgov site and follow the steps on how to apply for a disabled person's bus pass. This service is only available in England.
Getting on and off. Bus companies are legally obliged to make sure disabled people can get on and off buses in safety and travel in reasonable comfort. Visit Citizens Advice to find out the Rights of disabled passengers using buses and coaches.
In the very near future, all public transport buses will have to meet specific disability standards set by the government. As we wait patiently for this special day, we will have to make do with the current provisions.
Using public transport in London
Getting around in London by car is one thing, but using public transport is another. The good news is that there are many resources to help you tame the Tube and beat the buses.
Transport for London
In addition to all of the traditional services offered through the Transport for London (TfL) website, there is an entire section devoted to transport accessibility. For instance, did you know you could request staff assistance at all Tube, TfL Rail, Overground stations, boats, the Emirates Air Line and Victoria Coach Stations? You can get assistance from drivers on trams and buses (on DLR trains, look for a Passenger Service Agent).
TfL also offers a travel support card that you can download and use in order to let people know what assistance you may need. And for information on fares, visit the 60+ London Oystercard section of the TfL website.
Transport for All
Transport for All (TfA) is an organisation that is working to make it just as easy for you to travel on public transport as it is for anyone else. Formerly Dial-A-Ride and Taxicard users (DaRT), TfA is a great place to find how public transport is becoming more accessible to everyone, and it covers:
- The Emirate Airline (Cable Car)
TfA also has information on getting travel training or mentoring and tracking down items that have been lost on London's transport system.
In terms of door to door services, TfA can help you research the following:
- Capital Call
- Community transport
- Patient transport
- Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle
The organisation can also help you explore the following concessionary services:
- Blue Badge
- Freedom Pass
- Disabled and Older Persons Railcard
- National Express Coachcard
- 60+ Oystercard
To find out specifically about Freedom Passes, visit the London Councils Freedom Pass website.
Entertainment and cultural activities
Whether it's going to concerts, the cinema, art galleries, the theatre, museums, comedy clubs or anything else, being entertained is just good fun.
This isn't to say that you can escape your problems, but immersing yourself in something that allows you to let go and enjoy yourself is good for your wellbeing.
If you want to find Jewish cultural and community activities near you, check out our Directory of Jewish community and cultural centres.
Sports and leisure
If you're keen on sports, whether you want to get stuck in and participate or you just want to cheer on from the sidelines, either can be helpful to support mental wellbeing.
As we highlighted in the Getting enough exercise section of our Mental health issues: at home page, physical activity is a great support for mental wellbeing on top of being a great way to get fit. Playing team sports also helps build relationships with other people based on a common interest.
Sport England and mental health charity, Mind, have set up the Get set to go programme to help people with mental health issues get into sport. Have a look at the programme and see what's available in your area.
Wining and dining
As food plays such an important part in Jewish life, meeting up with friends or family for a quick nosh or a slap up meal is just what we do. If you're living with a mental health condition, you need to pay close attention to what you eat and drink, as this can have a real impact on your moods and your overall wellbeing.
Find out more, have a look at the Food and mood section of the Mind website or the Diet and Mental Health section of the Mental Health Foundation website.
Drinking alcohol is a normal part of British culture, and Jewish people living in Britain are no different. Alcohol, however, can have a significant impact on mood and mental health, whether you're living with a mental health condition or not. For both your physical and mental wellbeing, our advice is to drink sensibly and be aware of how alcohol affects you.
To find out more, have a look at the Alcohol and mental health section of the Drinkaware website.