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How Important is Driver Mental Health

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We’ve talked a lot about how essential HGV drivers are. The pandemic has highlighted this better than we ever could – after all without logistics companies and HGV drivers many more businesses would have collapsed during these difficult times. But that’s an awful lot of pressure for HGV drivers to face, and on top of that, drivers face their own unique mental health struggles. So if you’re running a logistics firm, you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to support your drivers and keep their physical and mental health in tip-top shape.

 

The Mental Health Challenges of HGV Drivers

When it comes to the health of HGV drivers, most firms are well aware of the physical challenges, and have plans in place to prevent them. In fact, drivers have to pass a medical exam just to become a driver, and issues like spine and neck pain, lifting injuries, eye pain and chronic fatigue are all addressed in training, and with healthcare plans. But mental health is a trickier one to deal with. The good news is that with the increased awareness of mental health problems, we also have a better understanding of how to deal with them.

Unfortunately, HGV drivers are particularly prone to suffering from:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Loneliness and Isolation

According to studies by mental health charity MIND, 30% of illnesses in the transport and logistics industry are mental health related – but since this is a self-reported survey, the rates might actually be much higher. And since the logistics industry is still dominated by men, who have been taught by society that it’s not OK for them to show weakness, especially if they are struggling with mental health, it means drivers all too often suffer in silence. Don’t believe us? 95% of men who call in sick due to a mental health problem will lie to their employers and even their family about the reason. This makes it all the harder for them to get the help they need, and all the more important that employers are aware and supportive.

 

What Haulage Companies Can do to Help

 

Acknowledge the Problems: The first and most important thing you can do is recognise that mental health is a very real issue for our drivers. There are a lot of things about driving an HGV that can create or contribute to mental health problems, from difficult working hours to night shifts, tight deadlines and even traffic frustrations. It all builds up, and the result can be some mild and some significant challenges. Make a point to understand what those issues are, and what role you can play in preventing them.

Provide Some Resources: Asking for help can be difficult, but in the logistics sector it can be almost impossible to get people to come forward with mental health issues. Instead of trying to force this, try providing resources that are easily accessible, free and anonymous to use for your drivers. Whether that’s access to a help hotline, instating ‘mental health days’ that can be taken without judgement or repercussion, or providing free and confidential counselling and mental health support to all drivers. These resources can make it easier for those who are struggling to seek help, and improve general mental health.

Promote Healthy Habits: Physical and mental health might seem separate, but they are very much linked. If you practice healthy habits, then your mental health will improve as well. So promote healthy diet and exercise among your drivers, and provide access to exercise and physical healthcare where you can. Most firms are already aware of how important physical health is, and a good healthcare plan can work wonders.

Improve Your Company Culture: Above all, focus on creating a culture of openness, acceptance and non-judgement within your business. HGV drivers who are struggling with their mental health need to be able to feel safe in coming forward for help, without worrying about losing their job. The best way to do this is to promote positive mental health in the workplace, and remove the stigma attached to seeking support.

 

If you’re struggling with driver mental health challenges, it can be tough to work out the best way to handle it. At The HGV Training Centre, we take the mental health of drivers just as seriously as the physical, and are sure to promote healthy habits across the board in our training. We can also offer support to haulage companies in promoting mental health positivity within their business, so if you would like some advice, please feel free to get in touch today.

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