According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 0.5 million workers were reported as suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2015/16*, including many within the transport and storage sectors. The UK’s largest Master Driver CPC Consortium RTITB is urging the industry to take action to help improve the mental health of LGV drivers.
A recent presentation from mental health charity, MIND, showed that 30% of self-reported work-related illness in the transport and logistics industry is due to stress, depression and anxiety. However, many more may be suffering. Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, 95% of workers calling in sick due to stress give a different reason to their manager. Additionally, 22% of workers have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, but less than half have told their manager.
“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,” says Laura Nelson, Managing Director, RTITB. “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.”
“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,” continues Laura.
Stress related illnesses such as depression and/or anxiety, as well as other mental health issues, can often arise due to pressures in the workplace. LGV drivers are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems, with a standard working day usually 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, caused by a lack of exercise, unhealthy diet and insufficient quality sleep, all of which are common amongst LGV drivers. Working alone as well as away from family, can also become a contributing factor to depression. However, mental health problems can arise from any number of factors outside of work which impact the driver’s daily life.
A further contributor to mental health issues can be PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). A large number of ex-military personnel working in the logistics industry may be privately struggling with this, as well as drivers who have witnessed or been involved in 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 about 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.”
The stigma surrounding mental health can make these conversations difficult, but the right training for drivers and their employers can help to overcome this. Training can also play a vital role in reducing the risk of developing mental health problems by teaching drivers and their managers how to spot the signs.
“It can be hard to make time for additional training, even for something as important as this,” explains Laura. “However, employers can easily incorporate Mental Health training into the Driver CPC Periodic Training that their LGV drivers are already required to complete.”
To help employers address this growing area of concern, RTITB has developed a Mental Health module within its Master Driver CPC module library. In addition to ‘Factors Influencing Driving Behaviour’ and ‘The Effects of Stress on Driving’, this module includes five helpful new sessions: ‘Mental Health and the Workplace’, ‘Driving and Depression’, ‘PTSD’, ‘Driving and Anxiety’, and ‘Bullying in the Workplace’.
For a tailored Driver CPC training course which addresses mental health for drivers, visit www.rtitb.co.uk or call our specialist team on +44(0)1952 520207 for more details.
More information about mental health at work is available at www.mind.org.uk/work.
*HSE – Source: Estimates based on self-reports from the Labour Force Survey http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1516.pdf?pdf=hssh1516