Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Should people with Mental Health Conditions be entitled to a Blue Parking Badge?

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that from next year, people with hidden disabilities such as Autism and Mental Health Conditions would have a better chance of receiving a Blue Badge, to make going out easier and allowing them to park in disabled parking. Usually, when a new opportunity arises for individuals who suffer from Mental Illness, I am all for it but this particular topic, I just can't quite get my head around and I really disagree with it, I agree that some individuals who have Mental Health conditions should be entitled to a Blue Badge but surely there has to be strict conditions and guidelines in order for it to work which i'm not sure there will be.

"The Blue Badge scheme already means those with physical disabilities can park closer to their destination than other drivers, as they are less able to take public transport or walk longer distances." I think that the Blue Badge scheme was such a good and inspiring scheme to benefit those who aren't as mobile as other individuals and to ensure that they can still go out and do everyday tasks, improving their quality of life. I also am very aware that there are almost always limited disable spaces that fill up very quickly, especially in supermarkets. It also is important to note, that disables spaces often have more space around the car, ensuring that those who require wheelchairs have plenty of space to move about comfortably. 

On the 29th July, Transport Minister, Jesse Normal said how "the changes we have announced today will ensure that this scheme is extended equally to people with hidden disabilities so that they can enjoy the freedom that many of us take for granted" and don't get me wrong, I am all for equality, especially when it comes to Mental Health but this seems like it is taking it a bit far when these people with Mental Health Conditions may be perfectly mobile and as someone who suffers from Mental Health Issues, I would feel incredibly guilty taking up a space that somebody who uses a wheelchair may need.

According to the Gov UK website, the new criteria will extend eligibility to those who; cannot undertake a journey without there being a risk of serious harm to their health or safety or that of any other person (such as young children with autism), who cannot undertake a journey without it causing them very considerable psychological distress and those who have very considerable difficulty when walking (both the physical act and experience of walking). I completely understand some of these points, but I feel that there are going to be tonnes of people who take advantage of this new criteria when they don't really need it. I also understand the first point especially however, in most parking areas there is a Parent & Child parking section extremely close to the disabled spaces which also has lots of space. I also think that in order for this to work, there has to be more allocated disabled spaces available and maybe even colour coded depending on needs and safety of the individual. It has also been stated on this website, that it isn't actually impossible for individuals with mental health conditions to get a Blue Badge so surely the families that have autistic children who may be a danger to themselves or others would be able to successfully receive a Blue Badge as it is.

I also do understand that this may be a step forward for those who can't be as independent as they'd like to be due to anxiety when travelling or about travelling but I am not sure that parking a bit closer to a store or building will be that beneficial and I feel that it is just going to make it more difficult to those who already have a Blue Badge as there will be a much higher demand for the disabled spaces, especially considering that there are 600,000 autistic people living in England, plus the 1 in 4 individuals who suffer from a Mental Health Condition each year. One last thing that I do fear, is that this is just adding to the stigma surrounding Autism and Mental Health Conditions because there are going to be people who don't agree with individuals parking in disabled spaces and may even question individuals on why they are using a space, which will only add to their anxiety.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear your thoughts below.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/people-with-hidden-disabilities-to-benefit-from-blue-badges

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