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Nine in 10 motorists take a drive to help mental health during pandemic​

Nine in 10 motorists admit that they have sought solace during the COVID-19 pandemic by going out for a drive.

Research by SEAT, released as the UK enters a third COVID lockdown reveals that, as the pandemic continues to impact the nation’s mental health, 59 per cent of UK adults have temporarily leaving their house in order to support their wellbeing.

SEAT has partnered with suicide prevention charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to pilot a first-of-a-kind mental health ‘SOS’ feature in its cars – a QR code applied to the vanity mirror of new vehicles which takes users to a specially designed page on CALM’s website.

While 90 per cent of those surveyed said they had driven their car to clear their head at some point during a tumultuous 2020, nearly half (46%) admitted they did so on a weekly basis.

A further 60 per cent of respondents said that being able to drive their cars during the pandemic (within government guidelines) had positively impacted their mental health. More women (64 per cent) than men (54 per cent) have found solace in driving their cars during the pandemic.

Three quarters (76 per cent) of younger drivers (18-24) felt their car had been a positive influence on their mental health during the pandemic, the most of any age group, while this was the case for just half of over 55s.

Drivers in London (59 per cent) were most likely to get behind the wheel to support their mental health and stay positive on a weekly or daily basis, whereas drivers in Yorkshire and the Humber were least likely to do so (39 per cent).

Richard Harrison. Managing Director of SEAT UK, said: “With our longstanding mental health partner, CALM, we wanted to play a small part in helping people to quickly access support when they need it. The new ‘SOS’ feature should make it that little bit easier to have someone to talk to, especially because so many people see the car as a place of refuge. It is definitely a case of ‘being silent isn’t being strong’, so we encourage people to speak to their friends and family or seek professional advice.”

The special page on CALM’s website offers users hints and tips on preserving their metnal health, as well as a helpline number if additional support is required. SEAT hopes to make the service a permanent feature in its vehicles if the pilot is successful.

Simon Gunning, CEO at CALM, commented: “From CALM’s helpline number to expert advice on how to have a conversation with someone you’re worried about, CALM and SEAT have teamed up to put people in the driving seat when it comes to helping themselves and others. 

Life is full of twists and turns. Sometimes we stall. And sometimes we need time to put the brakes on and take some time for ourselves. But no matter what you’re going through CALM’s helpline and webchat is here to provide free, anonymous and confidential support, 365 days a year, 5pm until midnight.”

The partnership between CALM and SEAT was established two years ago, with previous collaborations including the ‘Grow a Pair (of ears)’ campaign, which encouraged everyone to talk and listen to their friends to help support better mental health.

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