Happy & Healthy Drivers
From the days of buckboard wagons to the modern trucks operating today, the trucking industry has continued to play a vital role in our nation’s economy. However, the job can be stressful and wear on drivers over time. There is a perceived toughness of drivers in the trucking industry, and seasoned veterans know you need to have thick skin to do the job, but there is another side to life on the road. Due to the nature of trucking, studies show that drivers face increased challenges, such as loneliness (27.9%), depression (26.9%), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6%), anxiety (14.5%), and other emotional problems (13%). March 12, 2020 | Trucker
With approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association, truck drivers must understand they are not alone in their struggles. Many people, from children to adults, struggle with mental health needs, and as our society increases its awareness of these needs, the availability of support resources improves.
Listed below are four common issues truck drivers face that can affect mental health.
- Stress. Truck driving is often stressful. Heavy stop-and-go traffic, weather changes, unexpected delays, mechanical problems, and miscommunication are just some of the issues that can affect stress levels.
- Isolation. For many drivers, being away from family is one of the most difficult aspects of the job. Spending long hours alone can contribute to feelings of isolation. Drivers may also feel guilt when they are not able to be there for their family. I have seen the internal battle drivers face balancing their need to make a living with their desire for quality home time.
- Diet. Drivers often have limited access to healthy food choices. According to the Mayo Clinic, several studies have found that those with poor diets were more likely to report symptoms of depression. The good news is that people who ate a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish were less likely to report depression.
- Sleep. Lack of proper sleep is a significant risk factor in reduced mental health.
We all need to take mental health seriously. If you, a friend, or family member is affected, they need to know they are not alone in their struggles. If any symptoms of depression are occurring, it is time to seek professional help. Free helplines are available, and people call them for a variety of reasons. Most reach out when they are feeling overwhelmed, in crisis, or at risk of doing something they would later regret.