When it comes to essential services, you can’t get more essential than HGV drivers. They are the backbone of our economy, with hundreds of thousands of businesses relying on them to keep things running and products moving. That’s a lot of pressure as a baseline. But add in the long-term driver shortage that’s had them all working longer, harder hours, the stress of Brexit and the panic of a global pandemic, HGV drivers are feeling the strain more now than ever before. And this can lead to a lot of mental health concerns among drivers. So if you employ HGV drivers, you should be doing everything you can to ensure the physical and mental health of your drivers stays in tip top shape, even in the toughest of times.
The Mental Health Problem
Mental health is something that until recently was quite highly stigmatised. But as we understand and accept more about mental health as a society, we are also developing a better understanding of the causes, and what can be done to support those who are struggling. Even with all of this progress, mental health in men is still a challenge. Years of conditioning to not show weakness has taken its toll, and now men in particular are very unlikely to even admit they are struggling, let alone ask for help. In fact, 95% of men who called in sick with a mental health issue will lie about it to their employer and their family, and 30% of illnesses in the transport and logistics industry and mental health related.
Unfortunately, the nature of HGV driving means that some mental health problems are more common than others. For example, HGV drivers commonly experience:
What Employers Can Do To Help
Understand the Problem: First off, you need to understand that mental health is very challenging to work with, especially in the logistics field. A lot of things about driving HGVs can create mental health problems, including difficult working hours, night shifts, tight deadlines and even traffic. It all builds up to some significant mental health challenges. By understanding what could be causing the issues, you can start to create solutions.
Provide Resources: It’s always going to be a challenge to encourage HGV drivers to come forward with their concerns, so instead haulage firms should focus on providing resources to support their drivers. This includes creating a safe and welcoming environment, free of judgement, as well as free resources for drivers to use themselves. A few ideas include mental health hotlines, mental health days (which can be taken without judgement or punishment), or providing free and confidential counselling to employees.
Promote Healthy Habits: There is a proven link between physical and mental wellbeing, so ensuring the physical health of your workers will go a long way to improving their mental health as well. Things like diet, exercise and sleep are all important for balanced mental health and keeping the regulatory hormones in our bodies in check, all of which makes for happier, healthier drivers. So where you can, promote a health lifestyle in your drivers, and provide them with tools and resources to make that possible.
Improve Company Culture: Above all, focussing on creating a culture of openness and acceptance in your company is essential. HGV drivers who are struggling with their mental health need to be able to feel secure and safe in coming forward with issues, and not fear for losing their jobs, or even just being judged. This is the best way to promote positive mental health in the workplace, and keep your drivers happy.
If you need help, support ofr guidance in providing resources to your drivers, we would be happy to help. At Surrey & Hampshire Training, we take mental health very seriously, and make sure to include plenty of content in our training sessions around noticing the warning signs, managing your mental health and what resources you can access if you need support. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with us today.
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