Approximately half a million HGV drivers experienced work-related anxiety, stress, or depression between 2015 and 2016, according to HSE. Over the years, the statistics have continued to rise. Today, approximately 30 per cent of all self-reported work-related illnesses in the transport and logistics industries are due to anxiety, depression and stress. Researchers actually believe this number may be quite a bit higher. There continues to be a stigma concerning mental health. Approximately 95 per cent of workers who call into work for stress gives a different reason. Additionally, 22 per cent of workers have been diagnosed with stress or another mental health issue, yet less than half of them have informed their employer. If you’re working towards your C1 licence, there are steps you can take to look after your mental health.
What is the Importance of Mental Health?
For years, mental health was considered a taboo subject. If you were struggling, you could not talk about it or admit that you were experiencing a mental health problem. Today, this has thankfully changed. Now it is much more common to hear people discussing mental health. Unless conversations occur about the importance of taking care of one’s mental health, the HGV industry could lose many good drivers. Furthermore, mental health issues can cost the UK logistics industry £100 billion.
There are many stressors that affect an HGV driver, including working night shifts, dealing with traffic, working difficult hours, the physical tiredness and mental fatigue is caused by tight deadlines. Each of these can wreak havoc on the mental health of the drivers both at work and at home. The inability to exercise also negatively impacts a driver’s mental health. Exercise releases endorphins (natural anti-depressants). All of this creates a stressful work environment.
There is also a divide in genders. Statistically, men will not speak up about mental health issues the way women do. Instead, they suffer in silence. Although this occurs in all industries, it is especially prevalent in the transportation industry. The isolation of the job allows mental health problems like depression and stress to worsen if they are not treated quickly.
Loneliness affects all HGV drivers. The drivers are away from their loved ones and home for extended periods of times, which can take a toll on the mental health of HGV drivers. HGV drivers report that they do not feel like they have any type of personal life. Seeing their family for small periods of time and staying on the road can impact their mental health and lead to depression, anxiety and stress.
How Can You Help?
How can you ensure that your mental health and the mental health of other HGV drivers are a priority? We have gathered some great tips to help you.
First things first: Talk about it. This is what can make the biggest difference across the transport industry. Grasp hold of the saying, when a problem is shared, the problem is halved. Talking about your struggles can help to resolve them. There is a culture around men that says men should not talk about their problems. This is a lie!
Trying to deal with mental health issues on your own rather than seeking out help can cause you to suffer unnecessarily. Speak with your manager, a co-worker or your supervisor about what you are experiencing and feeling along with what you need to improve your overall mental health.
Maximize the time that you have with your family. Depending on the amount of time that you are away from your home due to your driving schedule, you may not get to spend as much time with your family as you would like. Although you cannot increase the amount of time spent, you can improve the quality of time spent. Do things with your family that everyone enjoys. When it comes to improving your family dynamics, it is the quality of time spent rather than the amount of time you spend with your loved ones.