According to The Health and Safety Executive, about half a million HGV drivers in the UK suffered from work-related anxiety or stress between 2015 and 2016. And as time continues to pass, the numbers continue to rise. At the moment, about 30 per cent of self-reported work-related ailments within the logistics and transport industry is the result of depression, anxiety or stress – though it is believed this number could actually be higher. Sadly, a lot of people in the UK stigmatise mental health with over 95 per cent of workers who call in sick due to stress citing a different illness. It is worth noting that 22 per cent of workers in the UK have been diagnosed with mental health related problems but less than half of them have informed their employers.
Why Mental Health Is Important
Mental health used to be and still is, to some extent, a very taboo subject. You could not talk about mental health issues making it really hard for people to seek help. Luckily, that’s changing. Now, mental health-related discussions are more common and very positive. However, without positive health care and conversations, the logistics industry could end up losing a lot of good, productive drivers who may choose not to complete their HGV licence renewal. So far mental health issues cost the United Kingdom’s logistics industry well over £100 billion.
The HGV driver’s job comes with a lot of stressors – long work hours, tight deadlines, night shifts, mental fatigue, physical tiredness and traffic can negatively impact one’s mental health both at home and at work. The lack of exercise also makes things worse considering that exercising is one the human body’s best natural anti-depressants. When combined, these things create a stressful and difficult environment that is hard to work in.
Let’s not forget that there is a gender divide that’s at play here too. Statistically speaking, men are less likely, to be frank about their mental health issues than women, with most suffering in silence. The same applies in most industries but is more prevalent within the transport industry. Isolation is the number reason why conditions like depression and stress get worse as most cases go untreated.
It is probably not a surprise that loneliness is one of the main mental health issues that most HGV drivers report. Well, it is easy to see why – HGV drivers are away from their loved one and their home for extended periods, sometimes days or even weeks at a time, and this sort of separation can have its toll on someone in many ways. Most HGV drivers report feeling like they do not have a personal life, and that seeing their loved ones for short periods or fleeting visits does affect their mental health.
Addressing The Issue
How do you ensure that your mental health, and that of other HGV drivers, is addressed appropriately? Here are a few tips for you to consider.
Talk About It! Of all the advice we could give, this is the most important one which will have the most impact. There is an old adage that says ‘a problem shared is a problem half solved.’ Talking about your mental health problem could go a long way to solving the issue. There’s a culture revolving around mental health today, especially in men, that you should never talk about your mental health issues.
Trying to resolve your mental health issues by yourself instead of seeking professional help will mean suffering unnecessarily. Telling your manager or your supervisor or your co-workers what you are going through won’t hurt and could just be what you need to enjoy good mental health.
Spend as Much Time as You Can with Family and Friends.
Depending on the nature of your work as an HGV driver, it’s likely that you do not spend as much time as you’d like with family and friends. When you can, make the most of your time with your loved ones to enjoy the benefits. It is worth noting that children remember the quality of time spent together with their parents, not the quantity.