Fleet operators have been warned to be aware of potential mental health problems among their drivers in the wake of an influential study. The report, commissioned by Mercedes-Benz, found that almost one in five van drivers described their mental health as poor, or very poor, with three quarters saying work was a contributing factor.
Increased workload and congestion on the roads were named among the triggers. Only a third of those drivers worried about their mental health had spoken to their manager about it.
Simon Hill, managing director of Total Motion, said: “These finding are of considerable concern. They should act as a warning to fleet managers to ensure that they have the best possible professional working practices in place to deal with any issues which may arise. It’s important that drivers are made to feel that they can open up to their managers, and can do so without stigma, so that any issues can be quickly addressed and resolved.”
The study involved 2,000 van drivers and operators. It found that 52 per cent said increased time pressures were affecting their mental health, while 50 per cent said they were suffering mental ill health due to increased workload. Job uncertainty was raised as contributory factor by one in three, while nearly one in five said congestion on the roads affected their state of mind.
More than one in 10 said they had not spoken to anyone at all on the subject, with only one in three saying they had raised their concerns with their manager.
Steve Bridge, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “With a continued surge in online shopping, an increasing reliance on same-day deliveries and spiralling traffic volumes across the UK, the real-world pressures on van drivers are changing. Our research findings act as a clear call to van drivers to talk about their mental health concerns and work pressures with their employers and for employers to actively listen to the real concerns of their workforce.”
The Mental Health Foundation said the figures suggest that van drivers are experiencing an increased rate of poor mental health compared to the national average.
Spokesman James Harris said: “In part, this may be explained by the pressures of the job, and the fact that van drivers can often be isolated.” He said a culture should be put in place in which anyone experiencing problems can ask for help in the knowledge that they will be supported. These findings concerning mental health come on top of growing concerns about how fleet operators should deal with dementia as part of their fleet management policies.
In an article we posted in June 2015, we drew attention to the fact that people with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can be affected from as young as age 35. To address this issue, we are working with clients and dementia care specialists to explore the risk assessment and testing options available and how they can be integrated into a workable fleet policy.