Courier driver mental health advice

The pandemic has encouraged more people to do their shopping online rather than visit high street stores. This means courier drivers end up working longer hours, trying to squeeze in more parcel drop-offs each day.
Long hours –  combined with heavy workloads, traffic congestion, tight schedules and a lack of social interaction – can seriously impact courier drivers’ mental health. If you feel like you are suffering, then it’s important that you’re aware of the support available and know steps you can take to improve your wellbeing.

Launch of the CALM Driver campaign

November 2020 saw the launch of the CALM Driver campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of van and truck drivers suffering from poor mental health.
As Commercial Fleet reports, It was launched after Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that the suicide rate among van drivers is 25% higher than the national average and 20% higher among truck drivers.
Campaign manager at Driving for Better Business (DfBB), Simon Turner, commented: “With a surge in online retail, there have been increased pressures on drivers to fulfil these extra orders, making their journeys longer and with even more time alone.
“These working conditions can increase the likelihood of mental health struggles and suicide. Supporting drivers’ mental health, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, isn’t just morally the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense, helping to keep operations running smoothly, and drivers safe and healthy.”
The campaign is a collaboration between DfBB, Highways England and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to help people who drive as part of their job.
Drivers can access free resources to help support them through tough times via the CALM Driver page on the DfBB website.
 A man smiling whilst driving his van

Driving with mental health issues

If you are suffering from mental health issues then it’s important to know the implications with regard to driving and notifying the DVLA.
Exploring this issue, Rethink Mental Illness shares some useful advice for drivers. Here’s a recap of some of the main points covered:

Informing the DVLA

You need to tell the DVLA if you have certain mental health conditions, including bipolar, psychosis, paranoid schizophrenia and psychotic depression. The DVLA website contains information on how to make them aware of certain medical conditions.
You should also tell the DVLA if you are suffering from a certain condition – such as anxiety, eating disorder, depression or personality disorder – and it is affecting your ability to drive in some way. For instance, the condition is reducing your concentration while driving, making you feel agitated for the best part of the day, or is leading you to have suicidal thoughts.

Who else should you talk to?

It’s important to speak with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition. They will be able to advise you on whether or not they believe it will impact your driving. Doctors have a duty to inform the DVLA if they feel you should stop driving but you refuse to do so.
Bear in mind that your courier insurance could be affected if you fail to notify the DVLA of any medical condition – check your policy for the exact terms.

Medications and driving

If you take any prescribed medication, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about how it could impact your driving.
Many so-called ‘controlled drugs’ allow a certain limit in your blood, but go over this limit and you could be committing a driving offence. This means that you could be fined, get points on your licence or get a potential driving ban. And, this can be the case even if you don’t think that the drugs are impacting your ability to drive in any way.
This type of medication includes certain painkillers, like morphine, diamorphine and tramadol, as well as some benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, lorazepam and oxazepam.

You’re allowed to drive after having these medications provided you’re not over the specified limit, and as long as you have been prescribed them and followed the advice from a healthcare professional.
Other medications – such as antidepressants and mood stabilisers – can also impact your ability to drive, so speak with your doctor or a pharmacist before taking them.
Here are some other things worth knowing:
  • Suffering from mental illness does not always mean you cannot drive safely, though many people will need to take extra care on the road.
  • The DVLA can ask you to undergo a medical examination or driving assessment if you disclose certain conditions to them.
  • Some drivers will receive a licence that is valid for between one and five years.
 A smiling man leaning against his van

Quick tips on managing mental wellbeing

If you are confident that you are not suffering a mental health issue but feel that your wellbeing needs a boost, these tips might help:
  • If it’s your own business, consider hiring additional help to cover the festive period (be aware that you will need to adjust your courier insurance policy).
  • Make sure you take plenty of breaks throughout the day – stretch your legs, don’t skip meals and drink plenty of water.
  • Try 10 minutes of meditation before you go to bed – it’s proven to reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Tell someone how you feel, whether it’s a friend or family member. Bottling up emotions will only make you feel worse.
  • Plan routes and alternative routes well in advance and give yourself plenty of time for your deliveries – rushing around causes unnecessary stress and can also increase the risk of being involved in an accident.

Courier insurance from the Insurance Factory

Hopefully, the tips and advice above will help you to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the festive season and beyond. Where the Insurance Factory comes in is helping you to look after your livelihood with insurance policies designed specifically for couriers.
Get a free, no-obligation quote for courier insurance today!

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.