Features & Interviews

Mind matters: Road transport industry mental health initiatives

12 October 2023 #Features & Interviews

Working in the road transport industry can bring demanding and challenging roles that, if not managed correctly, can result in stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue and sleeping disorders among others.

The issue was highlighted earlier this month (October 10) as part of World Mental Health Day, which brings attention to mental illness and its major effects on people’s lives worldwide.

Fortunately, the industry has acknowledged that it has a role to play in bolstering the mental well-being of its employees, and forward thinking organisations have developed a range of initiatives designed to help.

For example Moto Hospitality recently launched its ‘Cabservation’ campaign with the aims of fostering a culture of connection and dialogue among drivers during their breaks at its service stations.

As an integral part of the campaign, Moto Hospitality has deployed 60 “talking benches” at its service stations across the country. These benches serve as inviting spaces for drivers to take a seat and engage in meaningful conversations.

In collaboration with mental health charities Mind and Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and with backing from the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the campaign also uses digital platforms to encourage drivers to engage with their peers, including website articles, social media content and digital signage at Moto sites.

SAMH operates an information service along with more than 70 community-based services throughout Scotland, while Mind offers a helpline and fosters peer support communities across England and Wales.

Ken McMeikan, the CEO of Moto, said: “Meaningful interactions play a pivotal role in nurturing improved mental health and overall well-being. Our campaign not only seeks to provide emotional support to drivers but also hopes to facilitate connections among HGV drivers, many of whom have experienced feelings of isolation while on the road.

“Connecting with others can significantly enhance our mental well-being and foster a sense of belonging, a matter of utmost importance given the severe impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health. This challenge is further exacerbated by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.”

Meanwhile, Whistl, the logistics specialist, has partnered with Andysmanclub, a group where men aged 18 and above can speak openly about their mental health in a judgment-free, non-clinical environment.

The company invited Andysmanclub to talk to employees at its Bolton Super Depot about how they can support each other and talk through any issues they may face.

As part of the partnership, Whistl is promoting the Andysmanclub initiative on the back of its UK wide transport fleet and encouraging access to one of the 130, and growing, groups across the country.

Andysmanclub takes its name from Andrew Roberts, a man who took his own life aged 23 in 2016.

Andy Underwood, Disability and Mental Health Sponsor at Whistl said: “One person will take their own life in the UK every two hours, men are three times more likely to die by suicide than women.

“All of these deaths are preventable and Andysmanclub are on a mission to help by providing safe spaces for men to open up about the challenges they are facing.

“As well as raising awareness internally, Whistl’s van and HGV fleet are being kitted out with Andysmanclub stickers to spread the word externally.”

Also, The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) new Working Minds Campaign, supported by the RHA, is targeting HGV drivers – and their bosses – to promote good mental health whilst at work.

The organisation says long hours away from home, demanding delivery times and limited access to toilets and showers are common causes of stress for drivers. However, when safe to do so, drivers can text “BeAMate” for round-the-clock free confidential health support – a service provided by Working Minds campaign partner, Mates in Mind.

Elizabeth Goodwill, from the HSE’s Stress and Mental Health Policy Team said it is vital employers meet their legal duty to ensure risks of stress and mental ill health are factored into risk assessments.

She added: “Initiatives such as ‘BeAMate’ are helpful for people needing individual help, but we would like to see more focus on preventing work-related stress at an organisational level, to stop it developing into poor mental health.

“Driving an HGV and its cargo naturally comes with pressure. However, that does not mean the simple steps in our ‘5R’s’ (Reach out/Recognise/Respond/Reflect/make it Routine) can’t be followed. Problems arise when there is excessive pressure workers are unable to cope with.”

This year, all DHL Supply Chain employees in the UK and Ireland have been given access to the Wellness Cloud platform in line with the company’s approach of creating a holistic programme for employees’ physical, emotional, financial and social wellbeing.

The Wellness Cloud is an employee benefits platform that provides support for colleagues’ health and wellbeing across many challenges, including pregnancy and parenting, fertility, neurodiversity, mental health, menopause, sleep, bereavement, as well as financial wellbeing.

In addition, it offers support via recorded talks, live Q&As, classes, workshops and written guides encompassing a wide range of topics.

Through the Wellness Cloud, DHL staff have access to free online antenatal classes, free baby and toddler classes and virtual drop-in clinics with antenatal specialists and an infant and child sleep expert.

Colleagues also have the opportunity to arrange a one-to-one consultation with a specialist in fertility, parenting or menopause.

Nicki Hay, SVP HR, UKI at DHL Supply Chain, said: “At DHL, employee wellbeing is a priority and we’re proud to be investing in our colleagues’ health and happiness. Challenges in recent years, particularly the pandemic and cost of living crisis, are impacting the wellbeing of many people so it’s important to continually update and improve our benefits provision.”

Trucksters, the Spanish start-up, and Cristobal, a healthcare app focused on drivers’ health, have launched an initiative to support and improve the mental health of truck drivers.

Developed by General Practitioner (GP) Dr Amelia Cantarero, together with an experienced medical research team, Cristobal provides an easy-to-access menu of services which includes one-on-one therapy sessions or nutritional and posture advice, as well as immediate help like rehabilitation assistance.

The award-winning app is free for drivers and available for iOS and Android smartphones, and more than 600 renowned international companies are already using it.

Luis Bardají, CEO of Trucksters, said: “Though we are very proud of the programme, we are looking froward to a day when these services are no longer needed because drivers have indeed changed their lifestyle for the better.”

Within the transport and storage sector, any initiatives such as these, designed to combat the problems of work-related stress, depression, or anxiety, should be warmly welcomed.

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