Mental health training program to assist transport workers


Monash University survey shows 50 per cent of truck drivers have experienced some form of psychological distress

Mental health training program to assist transport workers
TWU Queensland branch secretary Peter Biagini chatting with Toll drivers.

 

A program to train transport workers to support colleagues with mental health problems will be rolled out nationally on October 13 following a successful pilot project.

The Steering Healthy Minds program aims to train truck drivers, bus drivers and other transport workers to support each other in order to tackle chronic mental health in the industry.

Speakers at the online launch will include Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey, transport worker Trevor Birks, Toll chaplain Millin Curtis, Kinetic Group south east Queensland general manager Matt Campbell, as well as Transport Workers Union (TWU) Queensland branch secretary, Peter Biagini, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) CEO Sal Petroccitto, and Lisa Fraser from the Queensland Transport Association.

The training involves encouraging work colleagues to discuss mental health issues or concerns and giving them the information and support they need.

Already, three pilot projects have commenced at Toll and StarTrack, as well as Gold Coast-based Surfside Buslines with the plan to push out three projects in each state and territory over the next three years.


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The program follows the release of a study by Monash University into the health of truck drivers soon to be published showing 50 per cent of drivers surveyed experienced some form of psychological distress. The study shows particular problems for younger drivers, with the percentage of those under the age of 35 experiencing severe psychological distress being almost double the national average for males of the same age.

Peter Biagini, TWU Queensland Branch Secretary says the aim of the ‘Steering Healthy Minds’ project was to give transport workers the help they need in the workplace from the people who know them best.

"Many transport workers spend long hours on the road, away from their families, working in a highly stressful industry where death and injury are common. Many experience mental health problems but they don’t know who to turn to and their mates are often powerless to help them," Biagini says.

"By training up their work mates and giving them peer-to-peer support we hope address the needs of transport workers in starting to get them the help they need, when they need it."

Professor Daryll Hull of Macquarie University and chair of Teacho says the potential for making change in the lives of transport workers was great.

"We have managed through three successful pilot projects to train workers who can now help their work colleagues in difficult times.

"This is a very practical initiative to address a real problem in the transport industry, where mental health problems go undiagnosed and people feel unwilling to sit down with strangers and discuss their problems," he said.

The program will be launched on October 13 by funders and supporters, notably the TWU, the NHVR, Queensland Transport Association, Teacho, TWUSuper, Queensland Council of Unions, WorkCover Queensland and Toll.

For more information on the Steering Health Minds project, go to www.steeringhealthyminds.com.au

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