Mental Health & HGV Drivers
In 2015-16 it was reported that half a million HGV drivers suffer from work-related stress, depression or anxiety and these numbers are on the rise. There’s a stigma especially with men surrounding mental health, with an astonishing 95% of workers calling in sick due to stress or anxiety but referring to another illness as a reason for time off.
Working as a HGV driver can be a very stressful job; difficult working hours, night shifts, traffic, tight deadlines, mental fatigue and physical tiredness can all play havoc with your mental health at work and at home, a lack of exercise and imbalanced diet would also put you at an increased risk. Statistically men are much less likely to speak up about mental health problems than women and instead prefer to suffer in silence. This isolation means that conditions like stress and depression are likely to get worse if they aren’t treated.
It’s probably not surprising that loneliness is the top mental health issue that HGV drivers report. After all, they are away from home and their loved ones for long periods, sometimes days at a time, and that kind of separation can take its toll on you in a lot of ways. HGV drivers often report feeling as though they don’t have a personal life.
What can you do?
Take a Break! We’re not talking a 4 hour meditation session with a ‘spiritual guru’ (but if that’s your thing – go for it!), even if it’s just 5 minutes to have a coffee, or half an hour to catch up on your favourite TV programme, taking time out for yourself shouldn’t be seen as a luxury. Everyone needs time to unwind from the day and clear their head.
Get Active! Research has shown that exercise is an effective treatment for stress, depression, and other mental health issues. As a HGV driver the amount of physical activity you are able to do during the working day is hugely reduced, by adding just 5-10 minutes of walking a day you could benefit your mental health greatly. Next time you pull in for a break, why not take a 5 minute walk? If you’re up for more of a challenge, the Samaritans have launched their new virtual marathon, the ‘Samarathon’ is aimed at getting people active over the space 30 days in order to combat stress and depression. You can find out more about it here!
Talk About It! This is the best piece of advice we can give you. Talk to your family, talk to your friends, talk to your employer. Although it may seem like you are alone in this situation, you are not. With such a huge focus on mental health in the media recently, many more people are coming forward as having struggles.
If you are struggling remember it does NOT make you less of a man to talk to someone.
You can ring Samaritans for free, anonymous, non-judgemental support on 116 123
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[Charlotte Haye. (2019). Why Driver Mental Health Is Important.Available: https://www.easyashgv.co.uk/news/. Last accessed 13th May 2019]