Driving Change for Transportation Workers Mental Health

Introduction to Transport Worker Mental Health

The transport and logistics industry in the UK is a vital part of the economy, employing over 2.5 million people and contributing £124 billion to the UK economy in 2021[5]. However, the industry faces significant challenges, including the need to address drivers’ mental health issues. According to recent surveys, transport workers experience higher rates of anxiety and other mental health conditions than the general population[1]. In addition, the transport, shipping, and logistics sector had a sickness absence rate of 2.5% in 2021, which was higher than the average for all industries[3]. The cost of mental health-related absences in the transport sector is estimated to be £7.7 billion[2]. Stress, depression, and anxiety are the leading causes of work-related ill health in the transportation and storage industries[4]. Therefore, it is essential for employers in the transport sector to address mental health challenges among their workers.

According to a survey by the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), 52% of all respondents experienced psychological or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or trauma as a result of their work in the rail industry[1]. The survey also found that staff were six times more likely to be absent due to a health problem caused or made worse by work than a workplace accident[1]. In addition, the survey revealed that rail employees experienced a 1.5-times higher rate of anxiety than the general population[1]. Another survey by Mates in Mind found that 30% of work-related illness in the transport and logistics sector is due to stress[6]. Furthermore, stress, depression, and anxiety are the leading causes of work-related ill health in the transportation and storage industries, accounting for 41% of all cases[4].

Understanding Mental Health Issues

Transportation workers mental health, when diminished, can impact their well-being and job performance. Long hours, tight schedules, isolation, and other factors contribute to these challenges[7][9]. For example, the solitary nature of the job can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, which can increase the risk of depression and anxiety[8]. Add to this that the trucking industry work environment emphasises stoicism, independence, and emotional control, which can favour symptoms of low mood or distress, such as anger, risk-taking, memory and concentration deficit, anxiety, depression, and insomnia[3]. These factors can make it difficult for transport workers to seek help or support when they need it.

Staying on the research and study front mentioned in the above section, mental health charity Mind’s did a study that reported that 30% of work-related illness in the transport and logistics sector is due to stress, depression, and anxiety[11]. These statistics highlight the need for employers to address mental health challenges among their transport workers.

Employer Responsibility and Awareness of Mental Health Problems

Employers play a crucial role in promoting mental well-being in the workplace. It is essential for employers to create a supportive work environment that prioritises the mental health of their employees[13]. This includes providing access to mental health resources, promoting a positive social environment, and ensuring that workers feel their work is useful[13]. Employers should also be prepared to aid employees in getting the mental health resources they need[13]. By taking these steps, employers can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and create a culture of openness and support.

Creating a supportive work environment has benefits for both employees and employers. For employees, it can improve their well-being, reduce absenteeism, and increase productivity[13]. For employers, it can reduce the cost of mental health-related absences, improve employee retention, and increase job satisfaction[14]. In addition, addressing mental health challenges can help employers comply with legal requirements and avoid potential legal liabilities[13].

Employers can take concrete action steps to promote mental health in the workplace. For example, they can make mental wellness a priority by dedicating organisational leadership and expanding resources for employees[14]. Employers can also enhance available mental health support, communicate available mental health support, create an inclusive work culture, and measure and meet the need[14]. By taking these steps, employers can create a culture of openness and support that prioritises the mental health of their employees.

Practical Strategies for Poor Mental Health

Employee Assistance Programs

Employers can provide access to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) and supporting mental health resources to support their employees’ mental health. EAPs offer confidential counselling services, referrals to mental health professionals, and other resources to help employees manage their mental health[15]. Employers can also provide access to mental health resources such as online resources, mental health apps, and teletherapy services[19].

Proactive and Preventative Education

Taking a proactive approach in educating and raising awareness about mental health conditions is crucial. At Gallantium we specialise in providing support packages that focus on workplace mental health topics each month. Our comprehensive approach includes presentations, dramatised case studies, podcasts, written support guides, top support tips videos and exclusive articles designed to assist leaders and workers in understanding these topics effectively.

Our resources aim to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and encourage changes in behaviour. The expert team we have, composed of experts in health, contributes to the development of our content. We ensure that our content is engaging and accessible for all employees catering to learning styles. We strongly believe in offering solutions that assist employers in managing mental well being concerns before they become overwhelming.

The approach we take involves delivering content on a monthly basis thus allowing employers to consistently demonstrate care and support for health management. This approach ensures that positive mental health remains a priority providing managers and employees with the support and knowledge to maintain a safe and healthy work environment permanently. 

Manager Training

Training for managers to recognise and respond to mental health issues is key. Employers can provide training for managers to recognise and respond to mental health issues in the workplace via a number of providers, you can get guidance on this from the health and safety executive as an example. This training can help managers identify signs of mental health challenges, provide support to employees, and refer employees to appropriate resources[20]. Managers can also learn how to create a supportive work environment that prioritises the mental health of their employees[18].

Flexible Working Conditions

Employers can offer flexible scheduling and workload management to support their employees’ mental health. This can include offering flexible work hours, remote work options, and job sharing[16]. Employers can also encourage employees to take breaks and prioritise self-care to reduce stress and improve mental well-being[20].

Peer Support Programs

Employers can establish peer support programs within the workplace to provide employees with a supportive community. Peer support programs can include support groups, mentorship programs, and employee resource groups[16]. These programs can help reduce feelings of isolation and provide employees with a sense of community and belonging.

By implementing these practical strategies, employers can support transport and logistics employee mental health and wellbeing and create a culture of openness and support in the workplace. Providing access to EAPs and mental health resources, training for managers, offering flexible scheduling and workload management, and establishing peer support programs can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and create a supportive work environment.



[1] https://www.ciras.org.uk/Whats-New/Blogs/mental-health-wellbeing-surveyed-rail-maritime-sectors

[2] https://blog.goodshape.com/insights/transport-industry-health-alert-2022

[3] https://www.matesinmind.org/what-we-do/sector-specific-support/transport-and-logistics

[4] https://www.rtitb.com/823-million-lost-to-work-related-ill-health-and-injury-in-transportation-and-storage-industries/

[5] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5dd6b167e5274a794517b633/Transport__health_and_wellbeing.pdf

[6] https://www.rha.uk.net/news/news-campaigning-blog/blogs/detail/mental-health-in-the-commercial-vehicle-sector

[7] https://www.atminsurance.com/the-causes-of-mental-health-problems-in-the-transportation-industry/

[8] https://healthcareaccessnow.org/the-link-between-mental-health-and-transportation-barriers/

[9] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/truck-drivers-face-mental-health-challenges

[10] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5dd6b167e5274a794517b633/Transport__health_and_wellbeing.pdf

[11] https://www.rha.uk.net/news/news-campaigning-blog/blogs/detail/mental-health-in-the-commercial-vehicle-sector

[12] https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-programs/safety/mental-health-resources

[13] https://www.fisherphillips.com/en/news-insights/5-steps-employers-can-take-to-ensure-mental-health-and-wellbeing-in-the-workplace.html

[14] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/national-surveys-reveal-disconnect-between-employees-and-employers-around-mental-health-need

[15] https://www.fisherphillips.com/en/news-insights/5-steps-employers-can-take-to-ensure-mental-health-and-wellbeing-in-the-workplace.html

[16] https://blog.shrm.org/blog/13-strategies-to-address-mental-health-in-the-workplace

[17] https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/mental-health

[18] https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/publications/how-support-mental-health-work

[19] https://www.apa.org/topics/healthy-workplaces/improve-employee-mental-health

[20] https://hbr.org/2020/08/8-ways-managers-can-support-employees-mental-health

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Nadun Baduge
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