What are the main things that contribute to people’s mental health? Worrying about money, a lack of social support and stress at work. For truckers, that’s a full house.
Until recently, the focus has been on the physical safety of drivers. However, with studies signalling truckers suffering with mental health issues and high rates of depression and suicide compared to other occupations, things are starting to change and mental health is finding its way onto the agenda.
Challenges for today’s truckers are very different to those experienced by their predecessors. Deregulation, lower wages, and deteriorating road infrastructure are just some of the factors causing driver stress.
Then there’s the increasing interest around driverless vehicles – something that might not be imminent, but is still causing anxiety about longer-term job security.
And let’s not forget the ongoing stresses of the solitary nature of trucking and the continual lack of sleep. Truckers repeatedly report the negative spending long periods of time away from home has on relationships and their ongoing feelings of loneliness. Plus, failing to get enough quality sleep is known for having a detrimental impact on mental health.
Lots of these factors are outside of a trucker’s control, but there are several things they can do to reduce their impact and look after their mental health.
Reduce sleep deprivation: Creating consistent driving schedules to help establish and maintain a good sleeping pattern, taking breaks earlier in the journey and reducing caffeine intake can all play a part.
Maintain strong relationships: Technology helps drivers keep in touch with loved ones. Facetime and other face-to-face video apps can’t replace a physical presence, but they can certainly help.
Recognise you’re not alone: Truckers have a reputation of not asking for help and support when they need it. That is slowly changing, but it is important for drivers to realise whatever they are feeling, they are not alone and help is out there if you ask.
Think one of your colleagues is feeling the strain? Here’s how to spot when a co-worker is stressed out. Because remember: we’re in this together.