Driving mental health awareness

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stressed man with head in his hands

As World Mental Health Day took place this week we’ve taken a look the relationship between mental health and driving.

Although awareness is improving many people still don’t want to admit to mental health issues they might be facing, however when it comes to driving the main consideration has to be safety.

Although there aren’t any mental health problems that automatically bar someone from driving the DVLA must be informed about any of the below conditions:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Paranoid schizophrenia
  • Psychosis
  • Psychotic depression
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Schizophrenia

The DVLA must also be informed if any of the following problems affect a person’s ability to drive:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorder
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Each case is examined on an individual basis and decisions on whether to withdraw the licence or allow it to continue with a shorter expiry date of between 1-5 years are implemented.

Mental health issues can develop at any stage to anyone, however there are certain events that can trigger them.

Road traffic accidents

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) have documented the relationship between being involved in a road traffic accident and post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Although instructors aren’t equipped to resolve these emotional disorders, it is well worth bearing in mind that any previous involvement in a crash, whether as driver or passenger, may affect a pupil’s ability to drive with confidence and cope with stress on the road. And although you may be an expert driver, instructors are just as susceptible to suffering from mental health issues after a crash.


Often quoted as being the biggest killer and responsible for causing heart disease, stress unfortunately tends to go hand in hand with being an instructor.

Many factors can contribute to this including a fluctuating income, road rage, multi-tasking, problem pupils and not having colleagues to let off steam with. Fortunately there are plenty of online resources including simple and easy to use guides from the NHS, the more difficult task is finding the time to conduct a little self-care.

In summary, if you or a pupil are struggling with mental health then don’t struggle alone. As well as online resources, don’t forget about the help that charities like Mind provide. They support over 280,000 people across England and Wales who are struggling with their mental health – find your local one here.