Driving For Mental Health
Advanced Driving gave me more than just a qualification, it gave Me Better Mental Health
That’s a bold statement, right? Let’s talk about that…
I recently-ish had my Membership Renewal from IAM RoadSmart through the post, and realised it was 6 years ago since I applied to complete my funded Under 26 Advanced Driving Course! The decision that changed everything, as I call it…
Those that know me, know I have had a “hard time” with my mental health (what a term of endearment!), which we will chalk up to a few bad experiences (which we will leave undescribed). I ironically hated driving (as much as I love cars), and I wasn’t one for social situations, or used to responsibility, or the freedom the course gave me.
It came as a surprise to me, but something clicked just right when a fellow member in a local classic car group told me about the IAM Advanced Driving course, and all the great things I could get from it – including the possibility of cheaper insurance (which at the time was much needed).
To me it became more than just a way to get cheaper insurance, the course gave me something to focus on, to look forward to, and more importantly, it was the ideal opportunity to bring me out of myself (and it sure did that!)
Confidence behind the Wheel
After a couple of months of training, with my incredibly fantastic & patient Observer, I was ready to take my Advanced Driving Test (no pressure!)… I passed – with a F1RST, I was over the moon, and very relieved! The benefits had already started showing themselves; I now enjoyed driving the vehicle’s I only really ever looked at! Now, getting behind the wheel of a car is one of my favourite things to do. It brings me a sense of joy to know I can get the most out of every journey (and keep myself and others safe!).
The Start of Something More than just a Hobby?
I caught the Advanced Driving bug, and within about 3 months I was officially made a Local Observer, then pretty much straight into my National Observer Test, and passed becoming a fully-fledged Group Observer! I found a love for driving, road safety, and helping others become safer on the roads. I then joined the committee of the Gloucestershire Advanced Motorists in September 2016, and what a whirlwind few years I’ve had!
I have since then qualified as an ADI (Approved Driving Instructor), I have had the chance to explore a love for Marketing and design, which has since turned into a real career opportunity, and I am able to give that back to the group through volunteering with the groups’ committee.
Making a Difference in the Community
Being a Group Observer has given me the opportunity to contribute to the community directly, helping to improve the driving of someone else, not only helps make them safer on the roads, it helps to protect their families and loved ones, other road users, and as a group we make a difference to the general safety of the roads for everyone – that in itself is a big accomplishment, and one I’m proud to be a part of.
It’s More Than the Drive… It’s Family
Joining the Gloucestershire Group of Advanced Motorists has given me a sense of belonging and I’ve met some amazing and inspirational people, through Associates, Group Members, Observers, Committee, and IAM RoadSmart teams. We have an incredibly supportive group and it’s not just about driving, but on a personal level too. To quote one of my favourite motoring films “I have family”. This group of people have become my rocks in life and I hold them very close to my heart.
Further Reading for Driving For Mental Health
IAM RoadSmart put some additional support for driving with Mental Health Illness –please take a look if you would like further support:
Mental health can affect you at any point in your life. You could be new to the road or you could have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge under your belt. If you do have a mental health illness and/or are taking medication, you may need to tell the DVLA so they can advise whether or not you're safe to be on the road.
Mental health charity, Mind and insurance company, We Are Marmalade, have put together an overview with some helpful information to help you decide if you're fit to drive.
Ben is the automotive industry's support service and they provide lots of tips on how to handle different types of mental health issues. Along with these useful links, we've put together a list of our own advice to help you stay safe on the road.