How the mental health crisis may be affecting truckers and what you should do about it

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” When the long stretches of road lie vacant

The trucker’s mind cries and loses patience

No friends or foes in sight

Fight against loneliness, fight and fight!”

According to the Transport Workers’ Union, one in every 5 truckers is reported to have mental health issues. Sadly, this number doesn’t even surprise, considering that the trucking industry has one of the highest fatality rates among others.

Apart from the economic pressure, truckers also experience extreme loneliness, especially on their long journeys across cities and states.

Those long drives do have an impact. This is one of the reasons for the FMCSA mandating a fixed 14-hour driving time allowance with a 10-hour off-duty window for every trucker in the US.

Being partially or completely detached from friends or families, these lonely drivers often get drawn into the consumption of hazardous substances like alcohol, and excess of prescription medicines, and, even, narcotics, to alleviate their depression. However, these substances lead them further into the glooms of despair.

So, how do you deal with the hazards of such a profession, where many of your fellow truckers are similarly suffering?

Well, most of the time, you submit yourself, knowing that there will be risks you won’t be able to avoid, and sometimes, you prepare yourself beforehand to overcome those risks.

How the truckers are helping fellow truckers get rid of depression

Many truckers these days are keeping an eye out for any sign of mental illness in themselves or their fellow truck drivers. In a report by overdriveonline.com, resilient truckers are even sharing stories of their own fight with depression to help other drivers, who are going through similar phases in their lives. The increased number of truckers’ suicide attempts drove this trend. In 2016, Michael Suson, a trucker in Oklahoma, created a Facebook group to extend support to his fellow truckers, who are battling with depression. He did it after two of his co-workers committed suicide within a short span of time. This private group has over 3,000 members, including the administrators and moderators, who are always on their toes to help people having suicidal thoughts and depression.

Hence, for your fellow truckers, maintain your calm and compassion. Lend your ears to listen to their troubles and feelings of distress. Communication is the key to identifying and fighting depression and anxiety. A positive and enlightening conversation can be of great help to both the parties – the one, who is narrating, and the other, who is listening.

Truckers’ depression remedies by professionals

Buck Black, a professional counselor in Indiana, is an example of a professional who has come forward to help distressed truckers. These mobile professionals are unable to attend office appointments. Buck helps them by providing counseling sessions over Skype. According to Buck, loneliness, homesickness, a sense of isolation, and monotony often contribute to depression in truckers, which give rise to dark thoughts. Therefore, communication with the outside world is mandatory for them. He also advises them to engage in positive and cheerful activities that can help them get rid of the negativity growing inside their minds. He also suggests that the truckers should also stay in constant touch with their peers to share their sufferings and get rid of negative thoughts if any.

How to reduce work-related stress among truck drivers

Much of the work-related stress truckers experience is caused by the time-bound nature of the job and the tight schedules. The freight industry is one with some dynamism and decisions must often be taken within a few seconds. A lack of planning also leads to high anxiety among drivers. While not everything can be controlled, what can be anticipated, should be to reduce this sense of a loss of control.

As a fellow trucker, you can provide assistance to your peers by helping them get used to new situations if you understand those better. The owners of freight companies can also contribute towards building a positive work environment by planning key aspects of the drives in advance. Obviously, little can be done about some deliveries, but the advent of electronic logging devices can help the drivers not overshoot their designated driving time of 14 hours a day. Buy the best electronic logging devices in compliance with the FMCSA regulations, and you can hope to reduce the stress that comes from inordinately long work hours.

You should never let the depression and anxiety of a fellow trucker affect you adversely. Instead, it would be more pertinent to lend a hand to those in need of comfort and consolation. Help and compassion multiples when given and comes back in an even greater amount when you need it!

Know that no one can survive the hazards of the profession alone. There are many people in the same boat (truck?) as you. If you’re all in it together you should work as a unit to raise awareness of depression and suicidal thoughts. Hit the road with an energized mind, not a distressed one.

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