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.
What Is There To Talk About?
Mental health used to be a very taboo subject. You couldn’t talk about issues or if you were struggling, and it was unseemly to admit to having mental health problems. Thankfully, that has changed, and now discussions about mental health are a much more common, positive thing. But without positive mental health conversations and care, the HGV could lose a lot of good people and good drivers. Not to mention the fact that mental health issues cost the UK logistics industry up to £100billion.
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 gender divide at play. Statistically, men are much less likely to speak up about mental health problems than women are and instead, prefer to suffer in silence. This is true in most industries, but is especially prevalent in transport. This isolation means that conditions like stress and depression are likely to get worse if they aren’t treated.
Is Loneliness Really A Problem?
Yes, it is. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the single most common issues reported by HGV drivers across the world – not just in the UK. Drivers who spend their lives o the road on their own, away from their families and disconnected from their friends. HGV drivers will often say they don’t feel like they have a personal life when they’re on the road, sometimes only seeing their families for fleeting moments.
And loneliness isn’t just an emotional problem. Over the last few years, researchers have found that strong relationships are the strongest predictor of a long and happy life, while poor relationships have been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, strokes, dementia and even catching colds. So loneliness is a serious issue on its own before you get into any of the other mental health issues drivers can suffer from.
What Can You Do To Change Things?
So that’s the state of play right now. But what can we, HGV employers and HGV drivers do to improve things for everyone involved?
- 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.
If you need support, advice, or want to talk about improving mental health support in your workplace, just get in touch with the team today.