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Let’s Talk About It – Driver Mental Health

HGV Training Centre

Mental health is a subject that’s been in the news a lot recently. But why? Because it’s becoming more common for people to suffer from mental illnesses and mental health problems, and we need to make a change. According to research done by HSE, half a million people suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, and over 30% of self-reported work-related illnesses within the transport and logistics industry is down to mental health. Our UK economy is resting on the shoulders of the men and women behind the wheel of HGV’s, and we feel it’s our duty to protect them. So today, we want to talk about driver mental health.

Why Do We Need To Talk About Mental Health?

Mental health has always been a very taboo subject, with a lot of people not wanting to discuss it at all, let alone at work. But mental health problems big or small can have a serious impact on your work, your life and your happiness, and for employers untreated and undisclosed mental health problems in drivers can cost over $100billion a year. So it’s important to open the dialogue and make it OK to talk about mental health at work.

In the HGV industry, there are a lot of factors that can contribute to poor mental health. Difficult working hours, night shifts, traffic, tight deadlines, mental fatigue and physical tiredness can all play havoc with your mental health. There is a struggle for a healthy diet and exercise regime, and many drivers struggle to maintain their relationships due to the distance.

There is also a pretty significant gender divide at play. Statistically, men are much less likely to speak up about their mental health at work and at home than women are. This is a common thing across the board, but in already male-dominated industries like logistics, it’s even more serious. This is one of the main reasons why co-workers and employers need to be able to talk about mental health, offer support and provide an open and honest environment for the discussions to take place.

Driver Loneliness

Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest mental health problems reported by HGV drivers is loneliness. Long periods of time away from home on the road, with no contact with your loved ones, is difficult to manage. Depending on the company you work for and if you’re a long or short haul driver, you could be spending days to even weeks away from your family at a time, and that kind of separation is challenging for your mental health. Worse still, research has shown that poor relationships are an indicator of problems later in life- like heart disease, strokes and dementia, while strong relationships are predictors of a longer life. Unfortunately, loneliness is often seen as part and parcel of being a HGV driver, and something drivers should just ‘put up’ with. We don’t believe this is right.

What Can Be Done?

So, you might not be able to prevent all mental health problems HGV drivers suffer – but you might be able to improve awareness and get the right support. To help, we have a few tips for driver and employers:

  • Talk About It! This is one of the single biggest pieces of advice we can give, and it’s the on that will make the most difference. There is truth to the old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, and talking about your problems can really go a long way to resolving them. There is a culture eight now around mental health (particularly in men), that you shouldn’t talk about your problems. But trying to deal with mental health problems on your own instead of seeking help could mean you’re suffering unnecessarily. Talk to your supervisor, your manager or even just your co-workers about what you’re going through, and what you need to achieve good mental health.
  • Make The Most Of Time With Your Family. Depending on the type of driving you do, you might not spend as much time with your family as you would like. So when you are at home, try to avoid just collapsing in front of the TV right away and staying there. Make the most of the time you spend with your family, your spouse and your children so that you can get the benefits. And remember – children will often remember the quality of the time you spend together, not the quantity. 
  • Put Mental Health At The Forefront. For employers of HGV drivers, it’s important to recognise just how challenging these issues can be, and how difficult it is for drivers to come forward. There is still a stigma around mental health issues (particularly at work), and the only way we can break that down is by making it OK to discuss such things in the workplace. This means employers need to create a space for drivers to raise their concerns and get help if they need it.

And remember, there is always support available if you need it. For more information on how mental health support in the workplace, just get in touch with the team today.

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