Can Services Like Uber and Lyft Help the Mental Health of Passengers?

written by Natasha Tracy - Oct 30, 2017

Can Services Like Uber and Lyft Help the Mental Health of Passengers?

We’ve all heard of Uber and Lyft – the crowdsourced driving services that get you where you want to go for less cash than your typical taxi. Some cities are welcoming this service while others are fighting its existence. But is there a benefit to crowdsourced driving services that no one is considering? Is there actually a benefit to the mental health of those who take Uber or Lyft?

How Do the Services Uber and Lyft Work?

Uber and Lyft are actually the makers of software that allows a “sharing economy” to offer transportation to those that need it. A sharing economy is one where some people offer to share their property or goods with others for a fee. In this case, it’s ride-sharing. In this sharing economy, those with cars (either owned or rented) who are registered with the service and who want to offer rides to others, are told by the software where and when to pick up passengers. Any individual driver can be available for rides at any time and then go offline (become unavailable) at any time as well.

Passengers pay for their ride in the computer application (or app) via a smartphone or other connected device so no payment exchanges hands in person and the drivers don’t need credit card machines. Passengers are given a description and the license plate of the car coming to get them along with the name of the driver. Passengers can also see where their pickup car is on a map and how long it is going to take the driver to get there. This allows passengers a degree of safety knowing the specific person who is coming to pick them up.

After the ride is over, passengers are encouraged to rate their driver. Those drivers who have too many complaints against them are barred from the system. This system, then, is considered “self-policing” in terms of ensuring that only good drivers are allowed to participate.

The Advantages of Ride-Sharing Services like Uber and Lyft

The main advantages that people like with Uber and Lyft is the cost-savings. While there is “surge pricing” that takes into effect at certain busy times, making the use of driving services more expensive than normal, most people still find these services to be financially preferable.

There are additional advantages to using these shared transportation services:

• You know the name of the person who is driving you.

• There is a specific person sent to pick you up that you can recognize by car description and license plate.

• You can see the ratings of the driver and decide whether or not you would like to ride with him/her.

• You can rate your driver once you arrive to help others know whether you had a good driver or not.

• You can pay via app and never have to hand cash or a credit card to anyone.

• You can see exactly how long it’s going to take for your car to get to you via your smartphone.

• You don’t have to wait in taxi lineups.

Some of these advantages are seen using typical taxi services while others are not. Taxi companies are working to implement similar features, however.

It’s also important to realize that women may feel much more comfortable ordering a safe ride from an app rather than standing alone on the street trying to hail a cab.

But Are There Mental Health Advantages to Using Ride-Sharing Services?

So while it can see like calling an Uber or Lyft car is just like hailing a cab, it turns out, in practice, there actually are additional advantages to your mental health.

Depression is a crippling disorder for many. It has many symptoms but one of them is an inability to leave the house. According to the Independent, one woman:

“. . . relied on Uber to get her to work on bad days, when the only way she could make it out was the knowledge that a car – with a rating, a name, and a licence [sic] plate – was waiting for her downstairs . . . Sometimes . . . her driver was the only person she’d speak to that day.”

In other words, it was the comfort of being able to request a car from her home, with a few app clicks that allowed her to maintain her employment. The social contact she got from the driver also played a beneficial role in fighting depression as well.

Another issue people with depression may face is an inability to make decisions. Deciding on a cab company, then, can seem daunting whereas a few clicks on an app and the assignment of a car can seem much more manageable.

Those with anxiety – the most common mental illness – may also find ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft helpful. For the average person, public transportation may seem stifling, stressful, uncomfortable and inconvenient. While this may never equal “fun” to a mentally-well person, it can mean that a person with anxiety simply can’t use public transportation at all.

A story of a woman with severe anxiety, according to the Independent:

“. . . [she] suffered from such bad anxiety that she was at risk of having a panic attack when she was out at night. In the midst of a terrible episode, crouched in someone’s front garden in a lonely residential street, she didn’t know where she was or how to get help. But she was able to WhatsApp her location to a friend, who immediately sent an Uber to pick her up and bring her to his house. He was able to watch the car’s progress through the city, knowing she was safe.”

Additionally, when a mentally ill person is used to certain services, they become part of a routine and comfort the person with the mental illness. A ride with an Uber or Lyft driver everyday can become just that.

Mental Health Advantages of Ride-Sharing Services Like Uber or Lyft

No one is saying that taking a ride-sharing service can heal what ails you – far from it. But it is possible that Uber and Lyft are making it just that little bit easier for people with mental illness to get around, and that will always have positive effects on both their lives and their mental health.


Marsden, Harriet, Uber helps those with mental health issues – what are they left with now? Independent. September 25, 2017.

Uber, Trip Safety. Accessed September 28, 2017.


Natasha Tracey is a professional writer and author for Bipolar Burble. She currently worked as a freelander for Canadian online pharmacy.

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