From a young age we’re taught to spot the physical signs of illness – coughs, sickness or chest pain could all prompt a trip to the doctors. However, when it comes to spotting the warning signs associated with our mental health, we’re not so attuned.
As any truck driver will confirm, stress and fatigue are major contributors to our mental wellbeing. According to a recent survey, 75% of those in trucking feel their work is too stressful, and 71% say the same thing about their lives in general.
Whether stress is the result of something inside or outside of work is not the most important factor. The key is knowing it’s happening and taking steps to prevent those feelings having a negative impact on our mental health.
Unless we are able to identify mental health issues in ourselves or those around us, those symptoms may go unmanaged. And when you are talking about a group of people who drive for a living, other road users could be put at risk if those issues are left unchecked.
Here are some of the signs of stress to look out for in colleagues.
- Taking lots of time off
- Arriving for work late
- Acting twitchy or nervous
- More extreme mood swings
- Becoming more withdrawn
- Deterioration of work or personal relationships
- A loss in confidence or motivation
- Drinking more alcohol
Think about it this way. If a colleague came into work with his or her leg in plaster, you would very quickly realise they were not able to drive a truck. But if that same person came into work feeling stressed, there may be no physical signs to act as a warning.
If a driver is stressed or feeling tired, their performance will suffer. For example, research tells us that a stressed driver is likely to take more risks.
Research shows stressed drivers use more fuel, and yes, dented metal, damaged wing mirrors, scuffs and scrapes all cost money to repair. But what about the human cost?
The cost of ignoring mental health is not just monetary.
Stress and fatigue need to be taken more seriously within the driver community. We need to be looking out for one another and spot the signs as early as possible. It’s time to treat mental health the same way we treat physical health to make all workplaces safer.
Do you think you’d be able to spot the signs in a work colleague? Or more importantly, would you take action to give them the support they need?