Collecting and assessing data regarding mental health status for a large population is challenging due to its qualitative nature; however, surveys can offer insight into specific issues regarding transportation impacts on mental health. These surveys can be used to generate community needs assessments (CNAs) that gather demographic data, survey results, and other informal feedback from the community members themselves.
Additionally, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services collects behavioral health—including mental health prevalence—data from different sources. This data can help public health researchers, transportation experts, and policymakers understand which populations might benefit from transportation-related interventions to improve mental health status. In addition to SAMHSA, there are a number of other data sets where users can access mental health data, such as the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) that collects information on mental illness and other risk factors.
Since a lack of transportation to healthcare is one of the risk factors to developing or worsening a mental illness, providing psychiatric transportation is one method to address this issue. Communities can developed fixed-route transportation services for patients to get the mental healthcare they need. This can reduce the stigma of care, reduce costs to individuals, and improve safety.