Mental Health and Truck Driving

When it comes to road safety for truck drivers, it seems that following the speed limit and checking one’s mirrors aren’t the only concerns that one should consider.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that truckers, as one of the largest occupational groups in the United States, find a great deal of some mental affliction for long-term and over-the-road drivers.

As with nearly any profession, this comes as no surprise – there is generally some state of mental health that must be recognized and addressed by the greater public.

What Kinds of Mental Issues Do Drivers Face?

Truck drivers have the potential as prime candidates for issues stemming from being alone in their occupation. While many drivers do not mind the solace of the road, they must also consider the social toll it may take when a driver is void of interpersonal contact for days on end.

The United States National Library of Medicine reported in a recent study that truckers most frequently reported to suffer from loneliness, depression, chronic sleep disturbances, anxiety and other emotional problems.

Depressed looking driver

While these mental problems that drivers face are results of multiple factors in their lives, studies show that a lack of ability to communicate and long hours that drivers complete are among some of the most prevalent problems they face.

Additionally, some truckers admit to forms of PTSD – if they experience and accident or witness an accident, the results can be long-lasting and very traumatic.

It seems that truck driving as an industry is not necessarily prone to more mental health issues than others, but there are indeed factors of the job that may prove evidence of them existing.

What Drivers Can Do

There may be no simple solution for truck drivers and truck driving companies to combat this problem, but it seems there are many steps in the right direction.

One of the first ways drivers can seek mental help is to simple recognize it. Many drivers may be reticent to report issues they are facing for fear of being chastised or being seen as a liability, but seeking help is key to getting better.

Many truck driving jobs have chaplains, driver mentors or other communication-related figures within their systems that drivers can speak to concerning their issues on the job. If a company does not offer these, however, there are always state and local-level resources that can help a driver simply talk it out.

Another way that drivers can prevent issues such as depression and sleep anxiety is to develop a healthier diet and sleep regimen. What one puts in their body and how often they rest is an enormous factor in how well they can perform, both physically and mentally.

Drivers are also encouraged to have a support system at home that works well for the family. If drivers with spouses and/or children can set up a time to speak to their loved ones in a way that doesn’t interfere with their routes, it may help them cope with isolation.

There are very simple activities that drivers can do on a daily basis to help stimulate them as well. Keeping a journal or reading a book are great ways to escape one’s feelings and to develop healthy schedules on the job. Sometimes, something as simple as keeping your mind occupied when off work is the best way to escape mental stressors.

What Trucking Companies Are Doing

In addition to supplying drivers with resources such as company sponsored chaplains and mentors, companies are devising new tactics in order to better serve the mental health concerns of drivers.

Many carriers are instating rider policies and pet policies for drivers so that they may take a companion with them on the road. Pets are proven to be incredibly therapeutic for drivers, and having a loved one with you that you may not see otherwise is always a bonus.

Happy looking driver

Truck drivers are also seeing a surge in companies that push drivers to be customer representatives with repeat clients rather than simply acting as a transportation service person. In this sense, drivers are put into situations that aid them in cultivating people skills. Furthermore, when a driver must truly act as an extension of the company to a client they deal with regularly, a driver has a relationship to look forward to and can count on a dependable source of interaction.

Truck driving companies are simply listening to drivers more than ever and doing their best to change with one of the fastest growing markets in the industry. More than ever, trucking companies want to establish an open relationship with truck drivers to communicate about any issues that should arise.

Truck drivers are among the hardest working individuals in the country. Talk to someone if you need support and find that perfect balance of work and personal life on the road.