Truckies and warehouse workers have joined forces to launch a mental health roadmap, which is a nation-wide strategy to reduce depression and suicide in the logistics industry.
The plan was launched on Friday by the non-profit Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, which is rolling out mental health resources for warehouses and trucking companies around the country.
One of the truckies on board is Ron Finemore Transport driver Jason Larfield, who has been behind the wheel for nearly 20 years.
Mr Larfield said it was a lonely profession at times, sometimes spending upwards of 12 hours on the road alone with his thoughts.
"As drivers we spend too much time on our own and we overthink. It's the truck driver's curse, I call it," Mr Larfield said.
"Truck driving's not an easy job. We spend a lot of time away from families and away from home."
His colleague Michael Gately has been in the driver's seat for around 40 years, and over the decades he has come up with the mental skillsets to keep himself in a positive frame of mind.
While on the highway he listens to podcasts and audiobooks, and he regards each day as an opportunity to learn something new and expand his horizons.
In addition to looking after his own mental health, Mr Gately tries to look out for his mates whenever he can.
"You can tell when someone's having a hard time, so you try to get them to talk. Instead of pondering on something that's gone wrong during the day you should try and focus on your next holiday trip, something that gets you out of the doldrums. Think about why you're doing it, and why you're working," Mr Gately said.
"When things are outside of your control, don't let it get to you. If you're getting held up and there's nothing you can do about it, don't fester on it. Try and see the glass half-full."
Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds chairman Paul Graham said they wanted to change people's attitudes towards mental health for the sake of their workers.
"We want to change the conversation around mental health in the transport and logistics industry and begin treating mental wellbeing as importantly as physical wellbeing," Mr Graham said.
"In launching the Roadmap, we're acknowledging we need a shared starting point to improve the collective mental health and wellbeing of our industry."
The roadmap received a $600,000 grant from the federal government through the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said it was a much needed investment, saying that truck drivers and warehouse workers were what kept the Australian economy going.
"Our truckies are the lifeblood of the nation. They deliver everything in Australia except for babies," Mr McCormack said.
"We want to make sure their headspace is right, we want to make sure they've got that support, because they've provided that support during coronavirus for the nation, they've provided for our regional areas, and they are the heroes of the nation through the coronavirus along with our frontline medical responders."
If you, or anyone you know, suffers from depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, you can call the Accessline Murrumbidgee hotline on 1800 800 944, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467.
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