The haulage industry is the backbone of UK economy. Truck drivers will often be required to wake up whilst the rest of us are still in bed, load up their trucks in any weather, and hit the roads hauling anything from food to medical supplies, and everything in-between.
The demands on HGV drivers are high, working long hours, weeks at a time away from their homes and families. They are required to meet tight deadlines and are often left with little time to themselves. These stresses can lead to health problems, but not just physical health. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to address some of the issues drivers face whilst out on the road, as well as the actions they can take to support their own mental health.
Statistics show that 30% of self-reported work-related illnesses within the transport and logistics industry stemmed as a result of stress, depression and/or anxiety – but reports suggest that many more may be suffering in silence. Unfortunately, drivers can find it hard to talk about these issues, demonstrated by the fact that 95% of workers within the industry calling in sick due to stress often cite a different reason for leave. In addition to this, 22% of industry workers have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, but less than half have informed their employer.
One of the main factors that worsens mental health is that people often feel uncomfortable talking about the issue. It is important to note that mental health problems are very common and can be greatly reduced by having people to talk to friends, families or impartial third parties. The mental health charity, MIND, offers an anonymous helpline for people who may feel uncomfortable talking about these issues. It is 100% confidential and is just the standard UK landline rate. The number is 0300 123 3393.
Here are a few practises for maintaining a healthy mindset whilst out on the road.
Having a simple hobby, is a good way to relieve stress. This can be a good way to get out of the cab, and spend some of your free time doing something you enjoy. Start a photo journal of your travels, find a local fishing lake, or buy a book to read whilst waiting to be unloaded.
Exercise is important to staying physically and mentally healthy. It may seem difficult to get exercise when out on the road, but take advantage any time you can get when waiting at your drop-off point or during breaks. You can also look for solo sport facilities in your area. Rock climbing, swimming and going to the gym are great forms of exercise, with facilities across the country. Or simply go for a walk.
When driving for long hours it is easy to feel alone. The trucking industry has a great community of similarly minded people. Make a conscious effort to be social when you can, talk to other drivers at truck-stops, meet up with friends when possible, or just go to the local tavern. You never know who you might meet.
It can be tough not seeing the people in your life for extended periods, so make the most of modern technology available from your smartphone. With apps like Facetime, Skype or Messenger you can easily video call loved ones to catch up on home life.
Having a holiday to look forward to can help motivate you when you’ve been working hard. Plan a getaway to the beach or a camping trip with family or friends to make the most of your time off work. Even a weekend getaway can help reduce stress levels and bring you back to earth after a long week.
It can be easy to feel lost when you are stressed out and away from home, so it Is important to remind yourself why you are doing the job. Whether it’s because you love the freedom of being out on the road, providing a future for your children, or saving so you can pay off your mortgage. Having a purpose is great way to maintain a healthy mindset, reminding yourself of this can help when you are feeling low.
These are our top tips for helping maintain a healthy mind whilst out on the road. If you or anyone you know is suffering with mental health issues, talk about it, either with friends/family, or with a professional. The mental health charity, MIND, offers an anonymous helpline for anyone who is suffering. Call them on 0300 123 3393.