Van operators ‘must come together’ to break down mental health stigma

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Van operators from all sectors and fleet size must come together to break down the stigma attached to mental illness, according to FTA’s Van Excellence scheme.

FTA is encouraging businesses in the sector to sign its CALMVan pledge to publicly showcase their commitment to tackling poor driver mental health.

Official statistics show one in five van drivers describe their current mental health as poor or very poor; far too many are suffering in silence for fear of ridicule or lack of support.

FTA’s head of light vans and commercial vehicles Mark Cartwright said: “Despite the prevalence of poor mental health – suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45 – many drivers struggling with mental health issues do so in silence, for fear of isolation, ridicule or lack of support from those around them.

“With 4.3 million vans on our roads, the statistics indicate a huge number of people could be in need of help and support right now – not just those who drive vans for a living, but anyone who uses a van as part of their working days, such as tradesmen.”

Employers and operators attending Van Excellence’s 2019 Operational Briefings, taking place in Edinburgh, Derby, and London from March 26 to April 2, will be invited to sign a CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) branded Mercedes-Benz Van to pledge their commitment to ensuring all employees have access to mental health support and advice and fostering a workplace culture of support and openness. 

The Operational Briefings are supported by Van Excellence Platinum Partner, Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Gold Partners Bott, Brigade Electronics, Hertz, Quartix and Lex Autolease. 

Cartwright said: “Only one in three van drivers suffering with mental health issues has discussed their concerns with their manager; it is clear the industry needs to tackle the stigma around mental health and foster an environment of support, openness and honesty, free from judgement or shame.

“The 2019 Van Excellence Operational Briefings will equip operators with the tools and techniques they need to help strengthen their drivers’ mental health; we invite all operators to attend a briefing and sign the pledge – our aim is to reach 300 signatures.”

The briefings will also tackle the physical and safety challenges facing van drivers and provide operators with up to the minute information on compliance and operating standards.

Speakers will include representatives from the British Dietetic Association, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), Transport Research Laboratory and the Police.

Event headliner John Dalziel, an ex-international rugby player and fleet manager, will draw on his wide-ranging experience to explain the parallels in preparation, mindset and performance between professional drivers and top-level athletes.

Places at FTA's Van Excellence Operational Briefings can be booked for £75 +VAT per person, by visiting the website.




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