Talking driver mental wellbeing

Monday October 10th is World Mental Health Day. Organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the aim of the annual event is to promote mental health education, awareness and advocacy. This year’s slogan is ‘make mental health and well-being for all a global priority’.

Each year in the UK, one in four people experience a mental health problem and the COVID-19 pandemic has also fuelled short- and long-term stresses. Estimates put the rise in both anxiety and depressive disorders at more than 25% during the first year of the pandemic.

When it comes to the workplace, professional drivers are recognised as a particularly high-risk group for a number of reasons (working in an unpredictable environment, often on their own, where traffic conditions, the weather and tight delivery deadlines can all contribute to stress and fatigue, hard to get enough exercise and eat healthily) and this is one of the main reasons why Driver Hire supports this event.

Talking previously about mental health, Richard Owen-Hughes, Driver Hire’s Group Marketing Director said, “If you’ve got a bad back or a heavy cold, it’s usually pretty clear to your colleagues and other people you interact with during your working day that you’re not 100%. But if you’re feeling ropey because of a mental health issue – for example stress or depression – it’s often not so obvious. And for too many people there’s still a stigma around mental health. We need to encourage people to talk about it more freely with others.”

When it does come to talking or seeking help, only a quarter of people who do suffer with mental health are having ongoing treatment and it’s reckoned that 95% of people who call in sick due to stress often cite a different reason.

In 2019, over 20 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety, depression or other serious mental health issues in the UK – an increase of 5 million compared to just two years prior. Productivity is a huge challenge today, so putting measures in place to support staff and reduce absence from work not only benefits employees, but business and society as a whole.

There are a number of resources available to help drivers and UK hauliers encourage discussion, including those provided by Driving for Better Business and also by raising awareness of the ‘5 Steps to Wellbeing’. This widely recognised set of simple steps can improve mental wellbeing enormously and are built around the following principles: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give.

Ensuring social interaction with other people, trying to be active – both mentally and physically – being aware of the world around you and helping others all have a beneficial effect.

To find out more, visit the ‘Professional Drivers Mental Health‘ section in the Resources section of the website.