The long hours that drivers spend on the road by themselves, the remote locations they travel to and the time spent away from family, can sometimes lead to poor relationships, feelings of isolation, stress and depression. The management team at Russell Transport felt it was important to work with staff to manage these risk factors.
The main objective of Russell Transport's Mental health initiative is to increase awareness of the facts surrounding mental illness and the key risk factors that are unique to the transport industry.
It was decided to deliver mental health awareness training to staff and their families, to give them some skills and resources to help them recognise risk factors early and maximise the benefit of the program.
The training focused on helping individuals to understand and recognise possible warning signs that a person may be developing or suffering from mental illness. It gave participants useful tips and practical advice about what steps they could take to address the issues for themselves, family and or colleagues. They were provided with a list of websites and help lines that could offer support or more information.During Safe Work Week 2011, several activities were organised, including:
- toolbox talks with drivers
- on site training for managers with a psychologist, on how to recognise the signs a person may be suffering mental health issues
- the launch of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The EAP enables staff and their families to meet confidentially with a trained psychologist up to six times a year and unlimited phone and online support.
Staff were originally hesitant to get involved in the initiative and were uncomfortable during initial training and toolbox talks on mental health, however participation has grown significantly since the activities held during Safe Work Week 2011.
Anecdotal evidence suggests staff are much more comfortable discussing mental health issues as toolbox talks have become more interactive and have increased attendance.
Feedback from many staff indicates that the EAP was well received as they found significant benefit and comfort from knowing they have a confidential counselling service they could access at no cost.
In the first year of operation, the EAP service triggered an increase in the number staff who felt confident with discussing and working through issues that may affect their mental wellbeing on both a personal and professional level.
Russell Transport believes it is better that mental health issues are raised early before escalating any further.
Workers and managers both indicated that they felt better equipped and more confident to recognise the signs and take action on mental illness issues.
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