How well do you know your drivers? Well enough for them to come to you if they had a problem? Well enough to spot if they were struggling?
When it comes to the transport and logistics industry, mental health has been an area of concern for quite a while. They hold a role in our society that is essential – without HGV drivers, businesses would grind to a halt, with no way to receive their supplies or ship their finished goods to customers. And with a long-term driver shortage, there is a lot of pressure on these individuals to perform at all times. And with the extra difficulties of the pandemic, HGV drivers across the country have been feeling the strain. So if you employ HGV drivers, you should be doing everything you can to ensure the physical and mental health of your drivers stays in tip top shape.
Every haulage company understands the importance of keeping their drivers in the best physical health possible. There are a lot of physical risks associated with driving HGVs, and these are thoroughly covered in training, and there’s even a medical exam to pass before you’re even allowed to become a driver. But when it comes to mental health, things fall down.
According to research done by mental health charity MIND, around 30% of illnesses in the transport and logistics industry and mental health related – but it’s important to note that since this is a self-reported survey, the number is almost certainly much higher. Part of this is a societal problem. Many men have been raised to not show any sign of weakness, and that it’s not ok to struggle with mental health. And while this outdated view is slowly going away, we are still facing the problems caused by it. Men are statistically less likely to seek help with mental health issues, and 95% who call in sick with a mental health problem will actually lie about it to their employer and their family.
Unfortunately, the nature of HGV driving means that some mental health problems are common, and completely understandable. For example, HGV drivers commonly experience:
With the right support, these issues can be managed to protect the mental health and wellbeing of HGV drivers, but that does require some effort from haulage companies, and the logistics industry at large.
Understand the Problem: The first challenge is understanding that there is a problem, and what it is. Even if you think your workforce is all happy and healthy, at least one of your drivers is probably struggling with mental health issues. There are a lot of things about being an HGV driver that can contribute to low mental health, including difficult working hours, night shifts, tight deadlines and even traffic. Acknowledge that there is an issue, and make a point of trying to understand the cause and effect.
Provide Resources: It’s always going to be challenging for people to come forward with mental health issues, especially men in the HGV sector. So it’s important to provide a safe and secure environment, with no judgement and no fear of losing their jobs for struggling with mental health. Whether that’s providing a hotline for drivers to use, instating ‘mental health days’, or providing free and confidential counselling to employees at any time.
Promote Healthy Habits: There is a proven link between good physical health and good mental health, so where they can haulage companies should be promoting healthy habits in their drivers. Diet and exercise have a huge impact on mood and the regulatory hormones in our bodies, lifting our mood and improving general mental state. So where you can, promote healthy habits and provide resources to make those habits possible.
Improve Your Company Culture: Above all, haulage companies need to put a real effort into showing that they are supportive of drivers with mental health struggles. Drivers need to be able to feel safe coming forward for help, without fear of judgement, or worse punishments and job loss. Instilling a culture of acceptance in your business is the best way to do this, and it can have some significant benefits moving forward.
If you would like advice or support in providing mental health resources for your HGV drivers, we would be happy to help. At the LGV Training Centre, we take mental health as seriously as the physical health of each driver we train, and include sections on mental health management within our training programmes. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.