The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to help raise awareness of mental health issues amongst commercial vehicle drivers. It is backed by Highways England. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about it and how you can help.
The basics of CALM
Commercial vehicle drivers often spend long periods in isolation. They may have limited options for looking after their physical health (e.g. eating, drinking and sleeping well). This can quickly take a toll on their mental health. That’s before you account for the stresses the job can bring, even under normal circumstances.
CALM itself is distributing windscreen stickers and leaflets giving information about where commercial drivers can go to get help with any mental health issues they are experiencing. It also encourages them to do so if they feel the need.
Why back CALM?
There are lots of reasons to back CALM. Probably the most obvious is that it’s simply good employment practice. Another is that you have a duty of care to your employees. This covers their mental health as well as their physical health. You should take this duty very seriously, if only because the courts certainly do.
A third reason is that commercial drivers are already in short supply, especially HGV drivers. This means that you want to do everything possible to retain the drivers you have and to get the most out of them. As a minimum, you want to avoid drivers either moving elsewhere for better conditions or taking a break from driving or taking avoidable sick leave.
Supporting mental health at work
At a very basic level, you can simply make it clear that you are aware of mental health issues and are happy to support anyone who is experiencing them. In simple terms, you want to ensure that there is absolutely zero perception of stigma about raising these issues. Remember, in addition to the ethics, you also need to think about the legalities.
Ideally, you’ll take this a step further and look proactively at how you can help your employees, particularly your drivers, to maintain their mental health. Depending on your resources, this could mean anything from compiling mental-health-related resources for them to offering education on ways to manage your mental health to offering counselling sessions.
In fact, you might even want to consider making all employees, or at least all drivers, attend mandatory counselling sessions. By making them mandatory for everyone, nobody is being singled out. Everybody has a chance to air any issues and you give yourself the best chance of catching problems while they are still at an early stage.
Supporting physical health at work
A person’s mental health is often closely linked to their physical health. It can be very difficult for commercial drivers to maintain good physical health due to the practicalities of their job. Right now, it’s harder than ever for many of them because COVID19 has led to the closure of a lot of the facilities on which they previously relied.
This means that, if you haven’t already, now is a great time to up your game with regards to helping your drivers maintain their physical health. Hopefully, you’ve already made sure that your drivers are aware of basic personal care guidance, such as using their breaks to get out of the cab and stretch. If you’re not 100% sure that they are, then you need to address this immediately.
In light of the ongoing pandemic, you might also see what you can do to provide drivers with more practical assistance. For example, you could look at fitting cabs with food-warmers to compensate for the absence of service stations.