The HSE has reported findings showing at least half a million large good vehicle drivers experienced anxiety, stress or depression arising from their work in 2015-16. These stats are getting worse as time progresses. Currently, 30% of self-disclosed ailments at work within the transport and logistics sector are due to anxiety, stress and depression. To this day reporting mental illness comes with the risk of stigmatisation. 95% of workers suffering from mental illness who call in to report they are sick give other illnesses as the reason. Also, a majority of workers who are diagnosed with mental illnesses hide this from their employer with only 22% disclosing their diagnosis.
Why Is Mental Health Critical?
In the past, people have treated mental health as a taboo subject. You could not broach the subject of your struggles with mental health. It was seen as a weakness that you could not share. Progress is now being made with positive discussions and debate around mental health becoming a common thing. However, unless these conversations are brought to the forefront, the transport and logistics industry, specifically HGV will lose its large talent pool of drivers. This is adding to the fact that mental health-related issues use up £100billion in the UK logistics sector.
There are many factors that contribute to stress among HGV drivers. Odd working hours, long shifts, night shifts, tough traffic, strict deadlines, mental exhaustion and physical fatigue all play a part. All these will affect mental health on the job or spill over to home life. Limited time and flexibility to exercise mean the drivers lack one of the best alternatives to counter stress. This creates a difficult environment to work in leading to stress, anxiety and depression.
Gender also comes into play. It has been proven that men shy away from disclosing or sharing their mental health issues as compared to women. They prefer to bottle up their problems. This is widespread in many industries but transport is highly affected. Isolation and failure to speak about mental health mean depression, stress and anxiety take a toll on the individual if they are not treated.
HGV drivers give loneliness as a top mental health issue they face. The long hours that can stretch to a number of days spent away from their loved ones and home weigh them down and burden their mental state. HGV drivers feel like they are alienated from their families and social life due to the short period of time they are with the family. Diminished personal life negatively affects their mental health.
How Can You Improve HGV Drivers Mental Health?
You can work towards ensuring that your organisation or any other address the mental health concerns of HGV drivers. The following are a few suggestions for you:
Voice the issue! Speaking about mental health is the single most important step towards tackling the menace of poor mental health. Talking about mental health means that the problem is known to exist and cannot be ignored. Sharing on mental health leads to discussions on solutions. The culture of bottling up problems and not speaking up which is prevalent among men should be discouraged.
Opening up on mental health problems rather than dealing with them personally will reduce your anguish and suffering. Be candid and share with your colleagues, manager or immediate supervisor about your mental problems and offer suggestions on the solutions you seek for better mental health.
Improve On The Quality Of Interactions When With Family.
It might not be possible to spend as much time as you would like with your family based on the nature of your driving work, especially if you intend to go for your HGV license renewal. This means you have to utilise the time spent with your spouse and kids as best as possible to be content. It is better to have quality time with family with cherished moments worth remembering. Quality time is more important than the quantity of time.