More needs to be done by the haulage industry to help improve the mental health of LGV drivers, according to Master Driver CPC Consortium RTITB.
This call comes after recent statistics from mental health charity Mind showed that 30% of self-reported work-related illness in the transport and logistics industry is due to stress, depression and anxiety.
But it is thought the true number of people in the industry experiencing mental ill health could be much higher, as a stigma still surrounds mental health, which means many do not disclose the true reason for their absence.
For instance, 95% of workers calling in sick due to stress give a different reason to their manager. Additionally, 22% of workers have been diagnosed with a mental ill health, but less than half of those have told their manager.
“Statistically, men are less likely to speak up about mental health problems, so suffering in silence is all too common in this male dominated transport industry,” said Laura Nelson, managing director of RTITB. “Conditions such as stress and depression are likely to worsen if left untreated, so it is important to encourage drivers and their managers to talk more openly about mental health.
“Mental health problems among workers are said to cost the UK between £70–£100 billion per year, so addressing this issue will not only be hugely beneficial to individual drivers and their employers, but could also positively impact the UK economy.”
Stress related illnesses such as depression and anxiety, as well as other mental health issues, can arise due to pressures in the workplace. LGV drivers are particularly vulnerable due to a standard working day usually including long hours of intense concentration, strict time constraints, demanding delivery targets and heavy traffic conditions.
Furthermore, mental ill health can be exacerbated by poor physical health, caused by a lack of exercise, unhealthy diet and insufficient quality sleep, all of which are common among LGV drivers. Working alone as well as away from family can also become a contributing factor to depression. But mental ill health can arise from any number of factors outside of work that impact the driver’s daily life.
“One of the most effective ways to address mental health problems among LGV drivers, and a big step towards recovery, is to talk about them,” said Nelson. “There are more conversations about mental health happening, but with 1 in 4 people said to experience a mental health problem in any given year we all have a responsibility to do more to help tackle these issues.”
For instance, the right training for drivers and employers can help to overcome the difficulty many have in talking about mental health issues. Training can also play a vital role in reducing the risk of developing mental health problems by teaching drivers and their managers how to spot the signs.
“It can be hard to make time for additional training, even for something as important as this,” added Nelson. “However, employers can easily incorporate mental health training into the Driver CPC Periodic Training that their LGV drivers are already required to complete.”
RTITB has developed a Mental Health module within its Master Driver CPC module library. In addition to ‘Factors Influencing Driving Behaviour’ and ‘The Effects of Stress on Driving’, this module includes five new sessions: ‘Mental Health and the Workplace’, ‘Driving and Depression’, ‘PTSD’, ‘Driving and Anxiety’, and ‘Bullying in the Workplace’.