6 September 2022 · Driving Hints & Tips

The Road to Better Mental Health

Road Sign

Improving Mental Health in the Transport Industry

The Automotive, Transport, Warehousing and Logistics industries are some of Australia’s highest employing industries. However, the widespread supply chain issues over the past two unprecedented years, have created tougher conditions in an already testing industry – tightening deadlines, extending working hours and raising expectations.

Australia's largest workplace mental health study, conducted by SuperFriend revealed that the Transport, Logistics, and Postal industries are ranked up there with the worst in Australia for mental health. As a result of the pandemic, there has been stages of panic buying, an increase in online shopping, shortages of drivers, and so much more. All of this has put an added stress on the system, and the effects are being felt across the entire supply chain.

So, what’s being done about it? This year, R U OK? has partnered with Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds to help combat the statistics on mental health in our industry. 

You are not alone

Studies show that nearly half of the workers in the Transport Industry have experienced a mental health condition at some stage. Sadly only 10% have asked for help – this is a statistic that we need to change. 

Katherine Newton, CEO of R U OK? said “Life’s ups and downs happen to us all, but those working in the road transport, warehousing and logistics industries face some unique challenges including tight deadlines, long hours, shift work and isolation. One thing we can all do is drive conversations with workmates who might be doing it tough, helping them feel connected and supported at work and in their personal lives.” (Full article here

What is being done? 

The good news is, there are some fantastic initiatives to help our industry. The Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds Foundation, is a unique collaboration led by some of Australia’s leading transport operators including Toll, Woolworths Group, Linfox, Qube and Ron Finemore Transport. The goal is to act as an umbrella body for the entire industry, developing a national mental health and wellbeing strategy for truck drivers, distribution centres and warehouse staff. It’s a long road, but a hugely important one.

Some helpful resources from ‘R U OK’ about combatting mental fatigue prevention can be found here.  

Further resources are available, encouraging everyone to play a role and help drive conversation. A toolbox has been developed to assist in creating opportunities for connection and conversation within the workplace. For example, Management can organise an ‘R U OK?’ volunteer to come in and talk at a workplace event or team catch up or engage in activities that allow workers to get to know each other better, such as ‘Conversation Bingo’ or ‘Connect to Chat’. The toolbox can be downloaded here.

By coordinating an industry-wide strategy for better psychological safety, wellbeing and physical health, this not-for-profit organisation is aiming to support all operators nationally. The vision of the Foundation is to ensure resources are made accessible right across the industry, for everyone.

How do you keep your mind busy? 

It’s easy to switch off or get distracted during long drives behind the wheel but keeping your mind busy can be a great way to maintain and improve your mental wellbeing. 

There are a few things that you can do to keep your mind busy and help improve your mental wellbeing. For instance, you can:

  • Fill your workspace (or truck!) with tokens to remind you of home. Family photos are a great way to remind you of what makes you happy. 
  • Make some time in your day to speak to a friend or family member. It is amazing what hearing a loved one's voice can do for your mood. 
  • Try not to sit down when you are on a break. Instead, move and stretch your legs to get your blood pumping. The more active you are, the clearer your mind will be. This is also a great way to help break up the long days. 
  • Make healthy food choices. We all know that eating healthy food is key to a healthy life. We also know that fast food is quick and convenient when you’re on the road. So, try preparing a healthy lunch the night before to avoid the usual lunch pit-stop.
  • Ensure you get enough sleep. Make the most of your rest time, as it will help clear your brain, and keep you safer on the road

How to spot the signs?

It may not always be obvious when someone is struggling, but there are signs to look out for that may indicate that someone you know might need support. 

  • Do they seem withdrawn? 
  • Are they more tired than usual? 
  • Have their eating habits changed? 
  • Are they quieter than usual? 
  • Have they disregarded their physical health? 
  • Do they seem sad? 

If you’ve noticed a change, here are some tips on how you can ask “R U OK?”:

  • Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?" 
  • Tell them you’re concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them. 
  • Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Listen actively – listening is one of the most important things you can do.
  • You could say: "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... you might find it useful too."

Are you ok?

The best thing to do if you’re feeling emotionally unwell or experiencing mental fatigue is to talk about it. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, there are a number of foundations such as R U OK?Gotcha4LifeBeyond Blue and MensLine Australia that you can reach out to.