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Haulage industry urged to tackle driver mental health

06 December 2021

WITH A recent survey revealing that half of logistics companies have seen a rise in mental health issues since Brexit, haulage industry leaders and mental health experts provide tips for supporting the mental wellbeing of drivers.

As a pre-Christmas surge in demand for goods comes up against Brexit red tape and a shortfall of 100,000 drivers, HGV drivers on the road are under greater pressure than ever. A recent study by Haulage Exchange (the UK’s largest freight exchange platform) highlighted that 50% of logistics companies surveyed have seen an increase in employee stress, anxiety and other mental health issues due to the indirect impacts of Brexit. 

Research 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. Other causes of strain on drivers’ mental health include shift working patterns, social isolation and the upcoming risk of seasonal affective disorder during cold, dark mornings and evenings. For female drivers, being in a male-dominated industry can also cause problems.

The government has introduced changes to the way driving tests work for HGV drivers to get more drivers on the road and alleviate the shortage. This follows the recent announcement that thousands more HGV deliveries could be made each month due to temporary changes to ‘cabotage’ rules allowing foreign transport operators to make unlimited journeys for two weeks before returning home. 

However, it’s vital that drivers already working also receive the required mental health support from employers, colleagues and the wider industry, particularly in the run-up to Christmas.

What can haulage companies do to support the mental health of their drivers?

It’s not always easy to identify the signs of mental health issues, but haulage companies must be mindful that people often hide these problems beneath the surface. With the right support, however, mental health issues can be managed and even prevented.

Luke Davies, head of sales at Transport Exchange Group says, “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.”