A MENTAL health charity have launched a project to tackle discrimination on public transport towards people with mental health problems.
Mental health charity Penumbra will work with First Bus in Falkirk to address issues that people have faced on busses in and around the town.
The main problems identified involve a reluctance from bus drivers to accept disabled bus passes from people with mental health problems and verbal intimidation towards those using the buses.
The project will bring drivers together with people with first-hand experience of mental health problems to work through the difficulties faced when using public transport.
The charity will run workshops where they will work with the drivers to increase their knowledge and understanding of mental health as well as giving people who suffer from mental health problems more confidence to use buses.
The project has been funded by See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
See Me is building a movement of people and organisations all over the country whose collective action will help to end the stigma and discrimination faced by people with poor mental health.
Penumbra’s involvement Falkirk.
William Wright, assistant support manager from Penumbra, said : “We hope to increase awareness of how buses and the drivers can impact on an individual and their mental health.
“Penumbra Falkirk actively promotes recovery for those with mental health problems, and the organisation wishes to encourage drivers to think about their responses and attitudes and how they impact on those with mental health problems.
“We aim to increase driver knowledge and understanding of mental health and symptoms and behaviours that might be exhibited on their bus.”
Judith Robertson, See Me programme director, said: “We are passionate about ending the stigma and discrimination that is unfairly attached to having a mental health problem.
“We know that two out of three people with mental health problems stop some day to day activity because of the fear of stigma or discrimination.
“The use of buses is vital to many people’s day to day lives and no one should face discrimination when trying to get around.
“We are hopeful this innovative new project will ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect when using public transport.”
Jim Brennan, depot operations manager for First Bus in Larbert, said: “Our partnership with Penumbra is important to help our drivers understand the needs of others and how social integration is vital.
“It also allows Penumbra to see the behind the scenes of First Bus training and the reasons why our drivers need to understand the importance of running a regular on time service, that all can rely on.
“The First Bus partnership with Penumbra is an excellent way of us showing commitment to our customers along with our ethos of our promise “Better Journeys for Life”.