MENTAL HEALTH: Calm before the storm

Date: Thursday, March 7, 2019   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

The Freight Transport Association is attempting to boost drivers’ mental health with its Calm Van Initiative and an app that checks their wellbeing and fitness to operate. Jack Carfrae reports.

Mental health charity Calm says suicide is the biggest killer of men aged under 45

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has launched the Calm Van Initiative in a bid to address mental health issues among drivers.

The organisation is attempting to raise awareness of the problem and available support by offering an information pack to leasing and rental companies that can be issued to their customers when a new vehicle is handed over.    

The scheme is being run in conjunction with mental health charity Calm (Campaign Against Living Miserably), which has been operational since October 2018 and the pack includes advice about where and how to get support for those who believe they may be suffering from poor mental health.

Information is typically supplied in the vehicle’s handover pack and costs £2 per vehicle, which the FTA passes on to Calm, and it is at the discretion of the leasing or rental company as to whether they absorb the fee or pass it on to the customer.

“We’ve engaged with the lease companies and rental businesses within the FTA, and with Calm, to create a mental health awareness pack, which the lease companies will attempt to have specified with new vehicles,” says Mark Cartwright, head of the FTA’s Van Excellence scheme, which has been designed to recognise excellence and improve operational standards.

“It includes a little bit of resource, access to a website with more details and the Toolbox Talk [the FTA’s presentation tool] that we’ll make available for companies to talk about mental health issues.”

Absolute hotbed

Prior to launching the initiative the FTA asked a number of members about the age and gender of their van drivers, who were collectively reported to be 99% male and around 75% under 45. According to Calm, suicide is the biggest killer of UK men aged under 45 and, when approached by the FTA, the charity suggested light commercial drivers could be “an absolute hotbed for mental health issues”.

The move also comes amid increasing publicity around van drivers’ susceptibility to such problems. In May 2017, Mercedes-Benz Vans published a survey of 2,000 LCV drivers, one in five of whom described their mental health as poor or very poor. A year later, another survey by the manufacturer claimed that 56% of van drivers believed there was a stigma attached to discussing mental health issues at work, citing a male-dominated industry as a stumbling block.



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