New research into the mental health of van drivers, delivery professionals and operators has been commissioned by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK to mark Mental Health Awareness Week.
The study found that one in five van drivers described their mental health as “poor” or “very poor”, with three-quarters of those surveyed highlighting work as a contributing factor.
Increased time pressures and workload account for around 50% of work-related stresses, with Steve Bridges, Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, attributing this to the rise in online shopping and same-day deliveries.
“Our research findings act as a clear call to van drivers to talk about their mental health concerns and work pressures with their employers,” said Bridges, “and for employers to actively listen to the real concerns of their workforce not only during Mental Health Awareness Week but beyond.”
In addition to these changes in driver workloads, the Mental Health Foundation has highlighted the isolation of the job. James Harris, spokesperson for the foundation, said, “This is important because we know that men are less likely to reach out for help, and are four times more likely to end their life by suicide. We need to create a culture in which anyone experiencing problems can ask for help in the knowledge that they will be supported.”
Automotive charity Ben has also conducted research which shows that social relationships have a massive influence on mental wellbeing. Figures from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness have detailed how millions of men in the UK are hiding feelings of loneliness. Ben’s findings suggest that this reluctance to communicate is of particular concern to the male-dominated automotive industry.
The study commissioned by Mercedes-Benz found that only one in three van drivers who are suffering from mental health issues have spoken to managers about their problems. Furthermore, 12% of respondents said that they hadn’t spoken to anyone at all. This reflects a broader hesitancy to talk despite efforts to break the stigma surrounding mental health, with a survey conducted by ComRes finding that 49% of people would be unlikely to tell their boss about problems such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression.
Ben hopes that these new figures will lead to greater awareness across the automotive sector about mental health issues, whilst also encouraging drivers to discuss any pressures with friends, family and colleagues. Ben offers a free and confidential helpline throughout the working week from 8am to 8pm.
More information regarding mental health and tips on how to look after it, can be found at www.mentalhealth.org.uk.
Ben provides a free confidential helpline – open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm – on 08081 311 333 or via an online chat.