Over the past 20 years, there has been a 44 percent increase in registered large trucks and an 86 percent increase in large truck miles traveled. However, many truck drivers are at a high risk for personal injury or death while working.
Drivers are also exposed to a range of mental health conditions, including psychiatric disorders due to high stress, low access or use of health care and limited social support.
According to the National Institute of Health, truckers suffered from significant issues affecting their mental health such as loneliness, depression, chronic sleep disturbances, anxiety and other mental problems. Mental issues contribute to the burnout that commonly happens for long-term drivers.
There is also a high risk of PTSD for truck drivers because they are commonly exposed to deadly traffic accidents or dangerous situations while driving. Experiencing fatal accidents can haunt drivers at home and on the road.
Protect your health on the road
Most truck drivers understand the circumstances of the job and work diligently to avoid mental health issues and burnout. There are a few ways you can maintain good mental health while driving:
- Consider a travel companion, which helps beat road isolation and keep your spirits up
- Maintain a strong support system through friends, family or other drivers
- Maintain a positive daily routine, which gives life structure
- Exercise when possible and keep a good diet
- Bring comforts from home like photos, knick-knacks or small decorations
- Keep your mind active through music, podcasts or audiobooks
- Make the most of your downtime
Mental health is an important aspect of your personal life and workplace environment. Some states are working to address mental health initiatives in the workplace or incorporate mental health illnesses into workers’ compensation.
Colorado has a specific law that a mental claim is not compensable unless there is a psychologically traumatic event that is generally outside of a worker’s usual experience and evoke significant symptoms of distress. However, it is more difficult to prove mental health claims in court.
Truckers who are experiencing a mental-health concern should seek treatment through a mental health professional or mention the matter to their employer if it influences job performance.