According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), half a million workers were reported as suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015-16*. As the UK’s largest Driver CPC Consortium, we’re urging the industry to take action to help improve the mental health of our drivers.
A presentation from mental health charity, MIND, at the Talent in Logistics Conference 2017, showed that 30% of self-reported work-related illnesses within the transport and logistics stemmed as a result of stress, depression and/or anxiety – but reports suggest that many more may be suffering. There’s a stigma surrounding mental health, with 95% of workers calling in sick due to stress often citing a different reason for illness. In addition, 22% of workers have been diagnosed with a mental health problem but less than half have informed their employer.
RTITB Managing Director, Laura Nelson, commented “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. 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.”
She continued: “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 including depression and/or anxiety can often arise because of pressures in the workplace. LGV drivers can be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, with a standard working day often including long hours of intense concentration, strict time constraints, demanding delivery targets and heavy traffic conditions.
Furthermore, mental health problems can be exacerbated by poor physical health due to a lack regular exercise, an unhealthy diet and insufficient quality of sleep – issues which are common amongst LGV drivers. The role of a driver can be isolating, with long periods of time away from family, which can become a contributing factor to depression. However, there is no set cause for mental health problems and issues can arise from any number of factors outside of work.
With many professional drivers moving to the profession following a military career, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is a common illness affecting many drivers, along with those who may have witnessed, or been involved in, serious road accidents.
“One of the most effective ways to address mental health problems among LGV drivers, and a big step towards recovery, is to talk to them,” says Laura. “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.”
Employers can struggle to have these conversations with staff due to the stigma surrounding mental health, but the right training for drivers and employers can help to overcome this. Training can also play a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing mental health problems by teaching drivers and managers to spot the signs. Laura says “It can be hard to make time for additional training, even for something as important as this. However, employers can easily incorporate Mental Health training into the Driver CPC Periodic Training that their LGV drivers are already required to complete.”
We have developed a Mental Health module within our Master Driver CPC Consortium module library which includes helpful sessions including Mental Health and the Workplace, Driving and Depression, PTSD and Driving Anxiety. For more information on our Master Driver CPC Periodic Training solutions, contact our Solutions and Service team on +44(0)1952 520207.
*HSE – Source:Estimates based on self-reports from the Labour Force Survey http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1516.pdf?pdf=hssh1516