Mental health in the haulage industry
We invited Leanne Lyons, an advocate for mental health in the haulage industry, to tell her story and share some advice she has for lorry drivers.
The mental health of professional drivers
My name is Lee Lyons and I am one of the founders of the Breaker Breaker Truck Show. Paschal O’Hare Solicitors have invited me to guest blog on the topic of mental health in the haulage industry. In December 2018 my husband David Lyons lost his battle to his mental health. He was a lorry driver, a mechanic and the haulage industry was his passion. At his funeral I asked the minster to make a plea at the service to anyone struggling with mental health. It was asked that they did not suffer in silence but to come forward and talk with a family member or friend. As a result, my cousin, Lisa, and I were contacted by so many of David’s colleagues that were also suffering.
Shocked but inspired by this we launched Breaker Breaker to raise awareness of mental health issues within the haulage industry. We were blown away by the response. The truck show in August 2019 raised £20,000 for a local mental health charity here in Northern Ireland. We had over 300 show lorries, 85 stalls and 7 musical artists, including the world famous Queen tribute act, Flash Harry. An amazing 10,000 people attended the show. The response was so good we are planning future truck shows.
The mental health of professional drivers is something most people never think about. These drivers are on the road for up to weeks at a time. They are eating, sleeping and working all in the same place. They are away from their family and sit with only their own thoughts most of the time. They have strict deadlines to meet with every load and delivery and also must remain vigilant on the roads. The stress can build quickly. Everyone sees the lorry, but rarely the person behind the wheel. For the most part, our lorry drivers see themselves as “men’s men” and they have been taught by society’s expectation of them to hide their emotion and “keep ‘er lit”, as they say. This is a stigma that needs challenged.
If you’re a struggling driver, talk to someone. There is no weakness in that. If you feel you can’t confide in someone close to you, I would urge you to contact Lifeline. All calls are handled by a qualified counsellor and they can be contacted 24/7 and 365 days a year. They can be reached on 0808 808 8000. You can learn more about Lifeline here.
You might also consider raising it with your employer. My journey so far has taught me that many employers in the haulage industry are ready and willing to support the mental health of drivers.
Although there is much to be desired in terms of raising awareness and breaking down stigma, the haulage industry is getting better. Over the past number of months I’ve had meetings about gaining access to Stenaline. The Breaker Breaker team, nurses and counsellors will be in the driver’s lounge carrying out free health checks for willing drivers.
If you would like to follow Breaker Breaker’s activities you can find us on Facebook and Twitter where we post about events and initiatives. If you’re a professional driver, stay safe and never be afraid to talk if you’re struggling. Thanks for reading.
One of the most stressful things that can happen to any driver is getting involved in an accident. Especially one that prevents you from working whilst you recover. Unfortunately, drivers of work vehicles such as taxis, vans and heavy goods vehicles (HGV) are statistically more at risk because they spend long hours driving. If you drive professionally and get in an accident, we may be able to help you. Our claims services are as stress free as we can make them and our primary focus is always what’s best for you. If you would like to know more, click here or contact us for a free no obligation enquiry.