Recently, the trucking industry has become aware of how important it is for drivers to maintain a physically healthy lifestyle, now it is time to be aware of the mental health of truck drivers as well.
Long-haul truck drivers are more susceptible to mental health issues due to three defining factors: worrying about finances, loneliness and stress. Other factors include: a lack of proper sleep, exhaustion, both mental and physical and the constant pressure to stay on schedule.
All of these factors can cause a trucker to have a variety of mental health issues such as depression, loneliness, anxiety and insomnia to name a few. Truck drivers are also at a higher risk of suicide than any other occupation.
Thankfully, there are ways for a driver to prevent this outcome and maintain a mentally healthy lifestyle such as:
- Face-to-Face video interaction
- Avoiding substance abuse
- Talking to someone
A study done by Dartmouth Medical School found that over 90 percent of patients with clinical depression also suffered from insomnia. In another study, 13 percent of drivers reported that they only got five hours of sleep during a 24-hour period. It is important for a trucker to get plenty of sleep.
Doing so helps a driver stay awake, remain focused and alert on the road. Some helpful tips from veteran drivers are: taking breaks during the early part of a trip, reduce the amount of caffeine and develop a driving routine to follow daily.
Face-to-Face Video Interaction
Being by yourself and away from loved ones for an extended period of time is difficult. While you can not be there in-person, a good middle ground is video-chatting with a loved one. Studies have shown that seeing a loved one’s face can help, especially in long-distance relationships.
Avoiding Substance Abuse
For a truck driver, substance abuse can come in a variety of forms such as alcohol, tobacco, types of steroids, marijuana and other substances. This can lead to addiction and create a greater risk of issues for the mental health of truck drivers.
Talking to Someone
It is important for a driver to seek help if they need it, whether that be a medical professional or a loved one who can give much needed support. Truckers have gained the reputation of being tough and are encouraged by an industry that favors stoicism and independence.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 94 percent of all drivers are men and less likely to seek help for their mental health than women. While mental health needs to be self-reported, a company can help by being aware of a driver’s needs and if necessary, require them to do an evaluation.
Between the stressful conditions, lowered wages, long hours and isolation, it is no wonder that the mental health of truck drivers is poor.
Remember that you are not alone in your struggles, there are people who are more than willing to lend a helping hand. The industry needs to recognize that the mental health of truck drivers is just as important as their physical health.
Are you a long-haul truck driver ready for a mental health break? Apply now and TransWood can help you stay close to home and take a well-deserved break without missing a beat!
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