On October 30, 2018, representatives from Erb Transport attended the Mental Health Symposium hosted by Trucking HR Canada in Mississauga, Ontario. The purpose of the symposium was to talk openly and transparently about mental health, and begin to erase the stigma surrounding it. Ideally, attendees will bring this conversation back to their own organizations and facilitate their own conversations about mental health in the workplace.
The main topic of conversation throughout the symposium was the perpetual stigma surrounding mental health. The speakers explained that people often associate poor mental health with an inability to properly or effectively preform a job. They may also associate poor mental health with weakness. The symposium strived to eliminate these myths throughout the day, explaining that suffering from poor mental health is not a sign of weakness and does not mean you are incapable of being an effective part of a team. This stigma tells people that mental health isn’t real because they can’t see it, and creates a culture where people are more willing to help you with a broken arm rather than an episode of depression, regardless of which one is more severe.
The keynote speaker, David Henry, then discussed truck driving and its relation to mental health. David is a professional truck driver, and fights an ongoing and severe battle with mental illness. He explained that truck drivers often struggle with stigmas of their own, which often act as a stressor in itself. Traditionally, truck drivers have been labelled as “tough” or “rough”. David has always thought of himself as a tough, strong, and athletic person. Today, David admits that through all the fights, football games, and accidents he’s endured, “the toughest thing [he has] ever done was admit [he] had a mental health problem”.
While on the road, David admitted to having suffered from loneliness. While it is true that a long-haul truck driver spends a lot of time alone, the symposium discussed many ways to combat this issue. Things such as bringing a pet on the road, calling family and friends, having positive conversations at truck stops, or even telling your Dispatcher about your day, can all make a significant impact on your mood.
One of the last, but certainly not least, aspects of the symposium was the correlation between physical and mental health (especially in regards to truck driving). According to Healthy Trucker, exercising releases chemicals in the brain that have a positive and lasting impact on your mood. Studies show that if you exercise regularly, there’s a good chance that it will positively impact your mood for a long period of time. If you don’t have time to exercise, you can do basic stretches that significantly impact your physical and mental health as well.
We are excited to continue the conversation about mental health, and create an open and transparent work environment for everyone. Thank you to Trucking HR Canada for hosting such an educational, eye-opening symposium.