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, as businesses in the sector are encouraged 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.
Employers and operators attending Van Excellence’s 2019 Operational Briefings, taking place in Edinburgh, Derby, and London from 26 March to 2 April, 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 sponsored by Van Excellence Platinum Partner, Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Gold Partners Bott, Brigade Electronics, Hertz, Quartix and Lex Autolease.
Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans and Light Commercial Vehicles at FTA, the organisation which administers the Van Excellence scheme, commented: “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.”
Cartwright continued: “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 www.fta.co.uk/veob19 or calling 03717 11 22 22.
Administered by FTA, the leading organisation in UK logistics, Van Excellence was created in 2010 to promote the safe operation of vans, represent the interests of the sector, and celebrate operators demonstrating excellent standards. Central to the scheme is the Van Excellence Code, a set of minimum best practice standards all van operators should aspire to achieve, covering safety, efficiency and sustainability.
*according to the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)