Sep 13, 2019
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Father and Son Suicide Highlight the Need of Mental Health for Truckers

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One of the things that they don’t tell you about when you first get involved in trucking comes from the mental health aspect. Recently, a father and son, both truckers, committed suicide, which only highlights the greater need for the industry to pay closer attention to this field. Truck drivers deal with some of the most demanding work on a mental scale because many times you will be on the road for weeks or months at a time. You will be away from family and friends. Some truck drivers talk about how they lost wives and barely know their children because of how their profession has kept them on the road. Drivers are required to drive for days on end, and not everyone is cut out for this type of work.

Demands of the Job

Accessing care can also be another one of the trickier aspects of this job because of how the situation demands that you remain on the road. Because of that, if you need a therapist, you can have a difficult time accessing them because you’re never in the same place for too long. That means that if you have mental health problems, they can be worsened through working in this profession. 

Father and Son Suicide

Two truckers who died within 24 hours of each other, a father and son, only highlight the necessity of getting help if you need it. You should never ignore your health for a job. Andres Urgelles Jr. passed away at his home one day before his father Andres Urgelles Sr. commit suicide at a truck stop when he learned of his son’s passing. In the wake of their deaths, many truck drivers have increased the call for awareness of this essential problem. This kind of lifestyle can have a considerable impact on your life in negative ways, and you have to sacrifice a lot to perform a job like this. 

Some of the most common stressors that drivers have complained about include:

  • Trucking accidents
  • Isolation
  • Exhaustion
  • Little downtime

If you feel suicidal, you should not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Their number is 1-800-273-8255, and they’re open 24 hours a day and seven days per week. 

An Alternative to Traditional Therapy

While you may have a difficult time doing traditional therapy because of the demands of the job, you might use a service like Talkspace as a way of getting help. This gives you access to mental health care right over the phone. Through this platform, you will have access to licensed therapists. You can also choose the online platform to speak with them. The sessions usually are once per week, and the price ranges anywhere from $20 per session up to $250 per session.

The Lasting Impact of Road Accidents

Car accidents can be extraordinarily gruesome. They can have a significant impact on truck drivers who spend up to 14 hours per day on the road. You may witness a crying child that is dying, or you may see a screaming woman who is bleeding to death. These are the nature of the work, but it can hurt your mental state. Many truck drivers have reported having nightmares over some of the things that they witnessed while on the road. Stress and anxiety can slowly build up to create an even bigger problem over the long term. Giving yourself the coping tools to handle emotional stressors becomes one of the essential aspects for getting through things like this. 

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

When on the road, you should take active measures as a type of prevention from some of the ill effects that living on the road can give you. Besides, you want to take proactive steps that will break up the monotony of the driving. For example, having a pet in your truck can give you companionship while allowing for the breaks that you deserve. You might also bring along a friend or spouse for an added adventure and good conversation with them. This minimizes those feelings that you are isolated on the road.

Another thing that truckers will do is to make calls to friends and family while on the road. You might use Bluetooth for added highway safety. This gives you a feeling of connection like you are not merely on the road.

Along with those things, you should do your best to make the most of your downtime. Truck drivers are known for working long hour days and not getting nearly enough downtime. When they do get downtime, they don’t make enough use out of it, which can eventually add up to many negatives. Once you have the opportunity to get out from behind the wheel, you should make the most of it. This will keep you from burnout. Occasionally, you might also spend some cash on a hotel room. In doing this, you can kick back and relax once in a while. You may not be able to do this every night, but it can have huge benefits.

Paying Attention to the Needs of Drivers

Now more than ever before, trucking companies have begun to pay attention to what their drivers are saying. Keeping them happy while on the road can be a solid investment that pays off over the long term. In the trucking industry, you have an extraordinarily high turnover rate with truck drivers because they will often leave one company for another. Doing everything that you can to keep them happy will help to minimize some of these risks. The truck driver shortage has also forced companies to pay more attention to their drivers because of the high demand for some of the best talent in this industry. If they don’t offer excellent benefits, some of the best drivers will seek employment elsewhere.

Keeping Exercise in Your Routine

Truck drivers live a sedentary lifestyle, and if you don’t make an effort to exercise, you can start to feel the ill effects on your physical health. Having good physical health will also translate to having better health mentally as well. Try to add in physical activity when you can, and this can have surprisingly positive benefits for you mentally as well. 

Dealing with Emotional Trauma

You have to deal with emotional trauma as well in some cases, and you have a few common signs that include:

  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problems concentrating
  • Flashbacks to past experiences

Living life on the road can be stressful, and it isn’t always the most comfortable lifestyle. Whenever possible, you may want to get out from behind the wheel and do other fun things that will keep you happy. Being a truck driver can be hard both physically and mentally, and before you take on this profession, you have to prepare yourself. You want to keep a positive attitude while driving and live as successful of a career as possible. One of the great things about being a driver is that the pay has continued to get better over the years. You may work long grueling hours, but many truck drivers live by the motto of, “Work hard, play hard.” Taking care of yourself is one of the keys to doing good work.

Check out this other article that also address the Health of Truckers


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