CALM Driver campaign launched to tackle driver mental health

The CALM Driver campaign has been launched to raise awareness of van and truck drivers suffering from poor mental health.

The launch of the campaign follows as statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the suicide rate for van drivers is 25% higher than the national average and 20% higher for truck drivers.

Van and truck drivers of all ages are a key demographic likely to suffer with poor mental health due to unpredictable journey times, traffic congestion, tight deadlines, a high workload, and lack of social interaction. 

Simon Turner, campaign manager at Driving for Better Business, said: “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 has been launched in collaboration with Driving for Better Business (DfBB), the government-backed Highways England programme and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), to help those who drive for work.

As part of the campaign, England Rugby player Joe Marler produced a video message aimed at UK van and truck drivers to support them during these challenging times.

Mark Cartwright, head of commercial vehicle incident prevention at Highways England, said: “Drivers who get behind the wheel when they are exhausted, unwell or distracted by personal issues are less effective and more likely to be involved in an incident; the importance of mental health cannot be underestimated.

“We urge anyone in this situation – and business leaders - to seek out the support available and we’re grateful to Driving for Better Business and CALM for highlighting this important issue.”

Driving for Better Business has produced 20,000 driver information packs for employers to place in their vehicles.

The packs contain a flyer and stickers to go inside commercial vehicles, making drivers aware of CALM’s free and confidential helpline and webchat for anyone who needs to talk about the issues they are facing.

Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM, said: “CALM has always been present in places where mental health issues often go unrecognised or ignored, we open up the conversation to everyone, we move it forward, tackle taboos and, crucially, stop people from reaching crisis point.

“That’s why we’re delighted to working with Highways England and Driving for Better Business on the CALM Driver campaign to help people who drive for work.

"By opening the door to the millions of van and truck drivers up and down the country we can continue to play an important role in challenging the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide, and take another step forward in creating long-term cultural change.”

To help promote the packs to employers, Driving for Better Business have commissioned comedian and mental health advocate John Ryan to write and produce a short video, ‘Man v Van’, to remind drivers that checking their own mental health daily is just as important as checking their vehicle.

Auto Electrical Services and Yodel, has ordered 5,500 vehicle packs for its drivers. Other supporters of the campaign include the Murphy Group, Bott, and JM Hall Couriers.

CALM Driver has also received backing from the Road Haulage Association (RHA), which is promoting the initiative to its members.

CALM Driver campaign and resources, including Joe Marler’s video and John Ryan’s video are available here.

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