A new help line for truck drivers has been launched by St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney as part of a new campaign to support a group who have a fatality rate 11 times higher than the national average. 1300 DRIVER, is an anonymous and confidential helpline staffed by experienced health professionals.
“The 1300 Driver initiative is designed to improve the health of Australian truck drivers who have a tough and essential job,” said Elizabeth Merrilees, Assistant Manager Clinical ADIS, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. “With the stress, anxiety and long hours of life on the road, it’s easy to develop unhealthy behaviours that negatively impact drivers, their families and the community.
“1300 Driver will deliver information, counselling and self-help tools to assist truckies to prevent, manage and end unhealthy behaviours, including substance use.”
The 1300 DRIVER helpline says it will support drivers experiencing and at risk of experiencing ill-health, stress, anxiety, substance use and potentially co-occurring mental health issues. Truck drivers face a broad range of health and wellbeing issues related to the job. The helpline will provide information, support and referrals to truck drivers and their families for health and lifestyle issues including alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
It has been found among truck drivers:
- 29 per cent are smokers (nearly twice the community average)
- 79 per cent suffer from physical inactivity
- 71 per cent are overweight or obese
- 26 per cent are at risk from alcohol use
- 54 per cent have poor diets
- 30 per cent have a higher coronary heart disease risk
Truck drivers also have a significantly elevated risk of hypertension, diabetes, gastro-intestinal and loco motor diseases, and longer hospital stays for such illnesses, compared to the wider working community.
Drivers are asked to contact the helpline if they:
- Struggle to manage sleep, long hours, alertness and thinking about experimenting with stimulants
- Have problems relaxing and getting sleep when you get home and thinking about substances as a way to come down
- Have anxiety and stress issues as a result of the job demands and are looking at substances as a way to manage
- Are changing smoking habits to meet work demands
- Are concerned about their physical health
- Are wanting to feel better or healthier
- Are thinking about positive lifestyle changes
The helpline also offers referrals for specialised help.
For more information call1300 DRIVER (1300 374 837) or check out the website.