The Christmas period looms, and HGV drivers could be facing a perfect storm of pressure as increased demand, the HGV driver shortage, and more Brexit related red tape combine with the usual Christmas stresses.
In anticipation of this, fleets are being called to ensure their drivers are appropriately looked after in order to safeguard their mental health.
This follows a survey by Haulage Exchange, which found that employee stress, anxiety and other mental health issues have increased in 50% of logistics companies.
According to research from Mind, 30% of self-reported work-related illness in the transport and logistics industry is due to stress, depression and anxiety.
The sources of strain on drivers’ mental health can be varied, but some examples are shift working patterns and social isolation, and for those affected by seasonal affective disorder, the winter months can be particularly unpleasant. Female drivers in a male-dominated industry can also be under additional stress.
Identifying the signs in individuals struggling with mental health can be very difficult, and companies need to be aware that the signs may vary in different people, and some may hide any problems they might be having. With the right support, however, mental health issues can be managed and prevented.
Luke Davies, head of sales at Transport Exchange Group, said: “If the right help isn’t available for drivers, some elements of the job can become stressful. So it’s vital that drivers feel like they can open up about any issues, rather than keeping things bottled up.
“Companies can set up a confidential hotline, introduce mental health days or provide free counselling. They can also address the link between good physical health and positive mental health, by promoting exercise and healthy diets.
“With the national shortage of drivers we’ve currently got, it’s more important than ever to retain drivers. Safeguarding their mental health is one way to make them feel valued and improve their working environment.”
For some insight into the dangers of mental health issues in drivers, as well as excellent, practical advice about what employers can do to help keep their people safe and well, read our latest Whitepaper: Driving for Work – The Importance of Wellbeing.