Mental Health Awareness Week 15th-21st May 2023
With cost-of-living pressures placing a significant impact on the nation’s health, Venson Automotive Solutions is encouraging fleet managers to review their wellbeing at work policies, in advance of Mental Health Awareness Week 2023i. This year the Mental Health Foundation focuses its’ campaign on anxiety. Venson says that with pressures such as heavy road congestion, the introduction of reduced speed limits in some towns and cities, and ongoing roadworks in many areas, in-work drivers who are suffering from anxiety may need some additional support.
A recent YouGov surveyii has revealed that economic pressures are damaging the mental health of nearly half the adults in Great Britain. Alongside domestic financial challenges, commercial fleet drivers are often under pressure to meet delivery deadlinesiii and business drivers often feel time-pressured which fuels anxiety levels. A robust health and safety policy that helps identify and support employees who are struggling mentally is essential.
Poor mental health can affect driver concentration levels as well as reduce reaction times, and disturbed sleep, due to anxiety and depression, can lead to driving while tired – both of which are major contributors to road accidents. The fact that nearly one in three road deaths involves a driving-for-work tripiv clearly demonstrates that driver well-being plays a vital role in road safety.
Alison Bell, Operations Director for Venson Automotive Solutions comments, “Despite the growth of online meetings and working from home, the nation relies on people driving for work whether that’s a company van, car or grey fleet driver. Stress management is an essential part of health and safety policy. Staff should feel empowered to express any concerns they might have relating to stress, whether due to their work or domestic life, that could undermine their fitness to drive.
“That’s why, as we enter Mental Health Awareness Week, fleet management should spend time reviewing wellbeing policies and reach out to drivers who might not come forward themselves, using signposting to ensure they know that there is a confidential support available both in and outside their workplace just when they need it.
“As well as offering emotional support, fleet managers can help in other practical ways. These include making sure their drivers are matched with the optimum vehicle for their job to provide ease and comfort while they are working to help avoid back and neck issues which can lead to stress”.
Venson’s top tips to avoid stressful journeys:
• Make sure the vehicle is fit for a journey: check fuel, oil level, coolant, tyres, lights, a clean windscreen, washers and wipers.
• Allow plenty of time for a journey and know the most appropriate route to the destination.
• Check traffic conditions before setting off.
• Avoid driving at peak times and in congested areas if possible as that can cause the most stress.
• Ensure the driver’s seat, head restraint and steering column are correctly adjusted as aches and pains due to poor posture will not improve mood.
• Control a situation by setting an example and giving way at busy junctions or allowing traffic to merge into lane when necessary.
• Anticipate other people’s actions and mistakes on the road by looking further ahead.
• Give drivers space on the road to resolve an error – courtesy costs nothing.
• Keep away from aggressive drivers – don’t react by accelerating, braking or swerving suddenly, as that will reduce vehicle control.
• Driving aggressively, speeding and overtaking are unlikely to hasten journey time by much, but could increase tenseness.
• Switch off the phone while driving – check for messages and emails or make calls when taking a break.
• For every two hours of driving take a 15-minute break – it can reduce tension and helps alertness.
• Consider an overnight stop on long journeys.
• Calm, controlled breathing helps to release muscular tension and relieve stress.