Fleets and Mental Health Awareness – Truck drivers tend to carry the image of being tough and resistant to emotional stress, but this perception isn’t always true. And it certainly doesn’t allow for open discussions about mental health in the trucking industry. Yet it’s important to do away with the stigma of mental illness in this industry. As such, many fleet truckers and their employers are working hard to change that image, paying more attention to mental health and its influences on the workers’ well-being and work performance.
With suicides up among truckers, it’s more important than ever to shed light on this situation and provide much-needed support. Death by suicide is just one small part of the wider more complex topic of mental health. With more than 17 million American adults experiencing depression, this is one of the most common mental disorders.
In truckers, this number is nearly double, according to Transport Topics. This is particularly alarming because depression is associated with suicide, and suicide is now one of the top 10 leading causes of death in this country.
The suicide rate is higher within certain groups and professions. Narrowing this down, transportation has the fourth-highest rate among working-age adults in America, with suicide being a particular concern for male-dominated industries such as trucking. That’s because almost 70 percent of people who commit suicide are male.
Mental health conditions are one factor in this, with depression and anxiety being some of the most common issues among truckers, followed by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Truckers see a lot of horrible things on the roadways, especially accidents, that can easily translate to anxiety and fear because it’s not talked about. They suppress their feelings about what they witness, burying it deep down because tough guys and gals aren’t supposed to talk about that stuff.
High Risk of Depression: The Factors
Many things within the transportation industry put drivers at a higher risk of depression and other mental health disorders, such as:
- Amount of time drivers spend away from family and friends, isolated in their cab.
- Pressure to deliver on time
- Pressure from weather and traffic conditions.
- Inadequate amounts of sleep.
- Poor access to healthy meal options and physical activity.
Common indicators associated with mental health distress include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Increased risky behaviors, such as substance use
All of these factors increase a trucker’s likelihood of being involved in a preventable accident.
All truckers share common mental health effects, but many fall along gender lines.
For instance, men are less likely to talk about mental health and their emotions, as they see it as a sign of weakness. They also think that if they open up, they will be judged and are subsequently embarrassed by that. Keeping emotions in has long been known to contribute to poor mental hygiene.
It’s important to understand that without good mental health, you can’t expect to have good physical health.
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