Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast

13. Truck Driver Mental Health. Linda Corkum, of the NSTSA

May 08, 2020 Chris Harris, The Safety Dawg Season 1 Episode 13
Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast
13. Truck Driver Mental Health. Linda Corkum, of the NSTSA
Chapters
Dawg On-It Trucking Pawedcast
13. Truck Driver Mental Health. Linda Corkum, of the NSTSA
May 08, 2020 Season 1 Episode 13
Chris Harris, The Safety Dawg

Linda Corkum of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association talks about truck driver mental health. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the truck driver is under even greater stress than normal. While trucking can be a stressful occupation, when we add in COVID, the stress levels for some are through the roof. Linda of NSTSA addresses this and more. Truck Driver Mental Health. 

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.

https://truckinghr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/THRC_Report_MentalHealthGuide-WEB-FINAL.pdf

https://cmha.ca/  (In crisis? Please call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca)

https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth/

Wellness Together Canada:  https://ca.portal.gs/

Linda Corkum of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association talks about truck driver mental health. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the truck driver is under even greater stress than normal. While trucking can be a stressful occupation, when we add in COVID, the stress levels for some are through the roof. Linda of NSTSA addresses this and more. Truck Driver Mental Health. 

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.

https://truckinghr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/THRC_Report_MentalHealthGuide-WEB-FINAL.pdf

https://cmha.ca/  (In crisis? Please call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca)

https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth/

Wellness Together Canada:  https://ca.portal.gs/

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has recently developed three crisis response training programs for essential workers https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/rtcl-nfrstrctr-esf-sfe-en-aspx/vdzyd/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY. We know that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers may experience depression and heightened anxiety due to the stress on their own health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods. These programs are specifically designed to help provide individuals with the tools and knowledge to better understand their own mental health and the mental health of others. There are three different courses available: Crisis Response training - Caring for Yourself  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/isis-response-virtual-training/vdzyg/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - Participants will be introduced to the Mental Health Continuum and the Big 4 Coping Strategies, to help learn how to better understand their own mental wellness, notice if they might be moving into unwell areas, use practical actions to help with stress, and know when to reach out to get professional help. Crisis Response training - Caring for your Team  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/isis-response-virtual-training/vdzyg/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - Participants will be introduced to the Mental Health Continuum, the Big 4 Coping Strategies, and Ad Hoc Incident Review to help learn how to better understand their own and their team’s mental wellness, notice if they might be moving into unwell areas, use practical actions to help with stress, and know when to reach out to get professional help. The first two hours of this course is the exact same as ‘Caring for Yourself’. It simply adds on an extra 90 minutes of material. So one would not need to take both courses. Crisis Response Training - Caring for Others  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/virtual-training-caring-others/vdzyj/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - will focus on how to create a safe space to have conversations about mental health and/or substance use problems. This training will prepare participants to have conversations confidently about mental hea

Show Notes Transcript

Linda Corkum of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association talks about truck driver mental health. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the truck driver is under even greater stress than normal. While trucking can be a stressful occupation, when we add in COVID, the stress levels for some are through the roof. Linda of NSTSA addresses this and more. Truck Driver Mental Health. 

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.

https://truckinghr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/THRC_Report_MentalHealthGuide-WEB-FINAL.pdf

https://cmha.ca/  (In crisis? Please call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca)

https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth/

Wellness Together Canada:  https://ca.portal.gs/

Linda Corkum of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association talks about truck driver mental health. During the COVID-19 epidemic, the truck driver is under even greater stress than normal. While trucking can be a stressful occupation, when we add in COVID, the stress levels for some are through the roof. Linda of NSTSA addresses this and more. Truck Driver Mental Health. 

Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.

https://truckinghr.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/THRC_Report_MentalHealthGuide-WEB-FINAL.pdf

https://cmha.ca/  (In crisis? Please call 1-833-456-4566 toll-free (In QC: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca)

https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth/

Wellness Together Canada:  https://ca.portal.gs/

The Mental Health Commission of Canada has recently developed three crisis response training programs for essential workers https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/rtcl-nfrstrctr-esf-sfe-en-aspx/vdzyd/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY. We know that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers may experience depression and heightened anxiety due to the stress on their own health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods. These programs are specifically designed to help provide individuals with the tools and knowledge to better understand their own mental health and the mental health of others. There are three different courses available: Crisis Response training - Caring for Yourself  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/isis-response-virtual-training/vdzyg/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - Participants will be introduced to the Mental Health Continuum and the Big 4 Coping Strategies, to help learn how to better understand their own mental wellness, notice if they might be moving into unwell areas, use practical actions to help with stress, and know when to reach out to get professional help. Crisis Response training - Caring for your Team  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/isis-response-virtual-training/vdzyg/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - Participants will be introduced to the Mental Health Continuum, the Big 4 Coping Strategies, and Ad Hoc Incident Review to help learn how to better understand their own and their team’s mental wellness, notice if they might be moving into unwell areas, use practical actions to help with stress, and know when to reach out to get professional help. The first two hours of this course is the exact same as ‘Caring for Yourself’. It simply adds on an extra 90 minutes of material. So one would not need to take both courses. Crisis Response Training - Caring for Others  https://go.mentalhealthcommission.ca/e/597791/virtual-training-caring-others/vdzyj/477357613?h=2p1KY6TZ0cEdUnkAdNhk6zMXJ7HI7HQjPG73UdAv3RY - will focus on how to create a safe space to have conversations about mental health and/or substance use problems. This training will prepare participants to have conversations confidently about mental hea

Safety Dawg:   0:03
they're crazy or they're they're lazy. They're not doing the job when

Linda:   0:08
in fact, they are trying to

Safety Dawg:   0:10
do with their own issues. That is Linda Corkum of the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association, and she's on the show this week to talk about truck driver mental health. Let's get to it. Welcome to the dog on it. Trucking podcast. I'm your host, Chris Harris, Safety dog. And when it comes to trucking safety, that dog is on it. Please, if you would show your appreciation for the podcast by leaving a thumbs up a comment a rating, it would help me so much raise the profile of this show and bring it and make it available to even Mawr listeners. So thank you very much. I appreciate you and your time that that takes. Now let's get on with Hi, Linda. Welcome to the dog on a trucking podcast. How in the heck are you today?

Linda:   1:14
I'm fine, thank you. Given it's Ah, it's spring. It's a new month and ah, I think all our snow is gone.

Safety Dawg:   1:22
For those listeners and watchers that they're watching a smile or a grin on my face, it's because I've been having technical difficulties causing me some mental stress this morning. And with it being mental health week, it ties right in, doesn't it?

Linda:   1:41
Absolutely. I understand what you're you're feeling.

Safety Dawg:   1:45
So, Linda, welcome to the show. We are asking you to come on because it is mental Health week. And you are one of the facilitators for the working mind, um, put out by the mental Health Commission. And that's how I first met you. You were putting on a symposium here in Ontario, Uh, for trucks, trucking companies. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Linda:   2:10
Eso the working the Mental Health Commission of Canada has, ah, huge library of resources and information available for for everyone to utilize. However, we are focusing on the trucking industry, and the reason why we got involved in this is we are a workplace health and safety organization. So we look at workplace injuries. What are the trends happening in our industry and specifically in Nova Scotia? And what we noticed is we're doing a good job of reducing the number of injuries that are happening, but the durations are going on longer than anticipated. So when we dug into that, we looked at some of the incidents and identified that perhaps there's more than a physical injury going on here, and, ah, it hasn't been identified or hasn't been treated, which is prolonging the time somebody has to be off at work. So then we contacted the working mind to find out if we could become facilitators for the trucking industry, and they have given us permission to do that. So that's what we do. There are three of us that provide the training for the working mind. It is 1/2 day session for employees, and it's a full day session for supervisors, managers and owners of companies.

Safety Dawg:   3:35
Well, and I know I went to the half day session, part of what I remember the most from that was you teaching us about stigma and the words that we use count or what can you talk about? Stigma?

Linda:   3:57
Yeah, stigma is, is a term used when individuals may, um, label somebody because of maybe ah, abnormal behavior, Or perhaps the way the reacting to certain incidents without fully knowing what's going on in the individual's own world. We all have family members. We have issues, we have personal issues. Perhaps it's somebody who who you've been affected by because they have been diagnosed with a terminal illness or perhaps in the truck driver situation. Perhaps they just saw something that has impacted them. And they're trying Teoh to deal with that, and and and we label them with their crazy or they're they're lazy. They're not doing their job when in fact, they're trying to deal with their own issues. And when they don't know what's really going on that that labels people, if you will and it hurts,

Safety Dawg:   5:04
Well, it hurts and we don't dig deep enough. Um, I don't think we're asking the right question sometimes of our co workers and our employees to be of help to them if we, um, wanna help them do the best job they possibly can. What would some of the questions be if I came in having a, uh, and because I wear my emotions on my shirt sleeve, usually people comptel when I'm in a mood as we can call it, Um, if you were my co worker and you saw me in a state that was less than optimal, Wolf say, in other words, I'm really pissed off today. What would you do are how would you approach me?

Linda:   6:00
First of all, I would acknowledge that you don't seem yourself today. Or is there something I can help you with? Just acknowledging that you're noticing a change in behavior and in most cases, that they may say if if they if there's a change in their behavior and you ask, How are you doing? And their reaction is, I'm fine. That's an indicator that no, they're not. And some people just like to walk away. When time to theirselves, However, there will come a point where you have to have that conversation about how where you can you tell me about why you're feeling that way, or why do you seem so angry today and just have a conversation to a conversation rather than automatically saying, Well, you're pissed off. I'll just leave you alone or whatever I'm like like Weiss, with your little ah problem this morning, Well, I could have said, Well, call me back when you're ready, instead of saying OK, let's let's work through this. Let's try this and let's try this And here we are,

Safety Dawg:   7:10
and I appreciate that. How would in the trucking industry where often the supervisors don't see those people that report to them. In other words, truck drivers, because the truck drivers out there on the road doing what they do best. How can a supervisor, um, get to know the driver in the driver's mental state a little better?

Linda:   7:36
Well, as you know, the person that driver speaks to probably most in the days, the dispatcher you know, the driver spends all of us spend more than 60% of our time at work. The the supervisors have a responsibility, its duty of care for their workers without their workers. You don't have a business, so you know they're our most important asset. So finding ways to have a conversation with those drivers and and all your employees at a time where it is safe to do so to have a conversation just to say I want to touch base with you or even if a customer always and thanks you for a delivery, the driver needs to know that he's appreciated and taking the time to have that conversation to say, you know, how are you or how's the family? What can we do for you today? Makes them feel valued. People need to feel valued, and there's lots of companies who do take the time to do that. And there's no better time that right now with what we're dealing with in in the world, then to step back and say, You know what I need I need as a supervisor to call or talk to my work or whether it's by zoom or a phone or whatever method check in with your workers. Check in with them as often as you can. They need to feel valued. They are under a lot of stress and more so now there they are, an essential service, and we can't do without them.

Safety Dawg:   9:08
And thank God for truckers. The and I agree with you. The when you walk into a dispatch office now are the ones that I walked into recently, um, compared to when I was a dispatcher there. So quiet, Um, with the satellite communications and the texting that's going on today, it is. A lot of the communication is done by messaging, and it's so impersonal, it's, I believe it's terrible for our mental health. Um, and so your suggestion of talking to a truck driver on a regular basis just to check in. And just to say hi, how are you? I think means a lot. I'm also special. You know, I talk a lot about truck driver recruiting and turnover, and I think if you can reach out to your drivers and reduce their stress levels somehow, you'll retain your driver's much longer because they realize that you actually care about them. And they're not just, um, anonymous person moving freed up and down the road and trailer 214 You know what I mean? Do you have other suggestions to make it more personal for the dispatchers in the driver's? Well,

Linda:   10:30
the dispatches to are under law stress to because they've got the customer calling and they've got to relay the information to the driver. So you have all that going on Do. But we know that having the conversation, having a two way conversation, whether is on the phone or by the face to face it is a We are humans and we need to communicate with people. So uh, by by making that contact or when they come in on the road, be there, welcome them back home because they've probably been away for a couple days or a couple weeks, you know, make the commitment to be in that drivers room when that truck hauls up or when they're ready to leave Pathum on the back and say, You know, have a safe trip. No, we thank you for what you do and way hope you come home soon to your family and friends. It's all about making them feel valued

Safety Dawg:   11:23
well in today's world, patting him on the back. Me not any more Be the right thing to be doing, but I understand what you mean. It's the it's the recognition. Lots of companies have safety bonuses and stuff that they give out. And I often say to those companies, a sincere thank you might be worth more than EUR 25 or $50 bonus for doing certain things, especially if it was the owner of the company. Many of my clients are 25 trucks and less so the owner of the company could easily pick up the phone and over a week's period talked to 25 driver and I think in this day and age with Colvin and the mental stress that is is out there. Um, just generally, you know, I met you before Covitz started, and I was excited that you agreed to appear on the show. Um, and now with the being mental Health week and cove it the stress level for drivers has to be has to be elevated, at least because I said they're always up there. Um, do you have any recommendations for drivers and dispatchers and everybody in the truck industry how to cope with stress and mental

Linda:   12:38
health? Well, what I would recommend is ah, self care. Self care is important because if you're not well, then you're not able to function at your capacity. And for those people who are in the workplace, if your mind is not on the the task, you are susceptible to an injury of some type. So self care is very, very important at What

Safety Dawg:   13:06
do you mean by self care

Linda:   13:09
when you know you're not feeling well when you're not feeling yourself? What do you need to do differently to make you feel better? Whether that's getting up and going for walks more frequently, she even short walks 15 minute walks. It is helpfully clears your mind to put oxygen into your system. I'm eating properly. Ah, lot of the drivers who are now out there. A lot of the truck stops even are shut down. So ah, lot of organizations are offering drive through meals, but there are places where there are no meals. So by packing healthy snacks before you go out on the road is very, very important. Helps keep you alert and safe as well as drinking water. You need fluids and then planning ahead to find out where the stops that you can make to get out. Take arrest, walk around, breathe. Get back in your truck before your your next your next stripped down the road

Safety Dawg:   14:12
breathing. Um, I've been doing some reading and watching on different breathing on my cell phone. I now have a breathing at, uh, that it helps me breathe. How and this is something the reason I bring it up. Besides the walking truck, drivers have heard that I think ah in the past, so brisk walks can help you a lot, but I'm not sure everybody understands the benefits of breathing as it relates to physical and mental health. Can you talk about that a bit?

Linda:   14:49
Yeah, it's an exercise that the drivers could do other dream while they're driving. I know I do it when I can't fall asleep at night. When I go to bed, it's is inhaling, holding your breath for several seconds and then exhaling. And it does calm your whole system down, puts oxygen into your system and helps your brain. And for me, when I do that, I do tend to fall asleep. So I know it works because I do it. But it is a very easy way. No cost is just taking the time to do

Safety Dawg:   15:22
it, and it also helps you use it to fall asleep sometimes. And we don't want truck drivers to do that behind the wheel. But I have done my breathing exercises well, driving because it does oxygen, oxygen. Eight kids having a difficult time today, even talking. It does put more oxygen into my blood. It keeps me more alert, Aziz. Well and so, and it also helps me deal with the stress of driving when I breathe properly. Um, so I would suggest, ah that drivers listen to their bodies and breathe a little bit more, uh, especially deeply breathing when we get stressed. It's a very shallow type. Um, don't what he called breathing. Um so other suggestions for dealing with stress during this during truck driver all the time, but during Cove it as well.

Linda:   16:31
Listening to music is very calming as well, whether you and they've all they all have access to music, so softer music is very calming that also, who can help you go to sleep when it's bedtime, not while you're driving. But even if you're feeling low or tired, faster music can help you build up that energy toe, perk you up and drive safely down the road. I know that's what I do when I have had a long day and I'm getting in my car to go home. I opened the window, I turned up the radio and I take take taking that breath of fresh air and I'm good to go. So I understand that that's that is what a lot of truck drivers do.

Safety Dawg:   17:14
And I'm on old guy in Led Zeppelin and Chicago perks me right up so

Linda:   17:22
and I know I know what the music is you're talking about.

Safety Dawg:   17:27
Well, it's the music of my generation. You I'm surprised you know what it is that I'm talking about. So with that, what else can truck drivers due to have good mental health,

Linda:   17:47
focusing on the positive things in life? Like what? What brings them joy? What brings them pleasure? Those are things that you know, we are very. We're very fortunate to Even though we are going through a covert 19 issue here, we're very fortunate to have the support of Canada and resources that are available to help us. So we need to think just how fortunate are we? You know, if you get up in the morning, it's a new day. There's a lot to be thankful for for those who have family, Children, pets, different people who are special in their lives. It's a good day

Safety Dawg:   18:27
on, and I think we won living a fantastic country. But we are way, actually live in a great, great time. Um, you know, we do have outstanding medical, uh, apparatuses here in the country and throat North America that we if we do get sick, it's available to us. Um, I think it's the best of times. I don't know what the future holds, but right now it's a pretty darn good time to be living. We've got the Internet, We've got Zoom. We've got other methods of communication. So those drivers that are that are on the road can't at least reach back and talk to their family and still be connected much more than they could have 20 or 30 years ago, Linda and sorry. Well, what else would you like to ah, have our listeners and watchers hear about?

Linda:   19:23
Well, if if they have never taken the mental health First Aid training program Ah, lot of organizations offer that I would encourage that there you, ah, you learn about different types of mental illness is how you would how you should respond to somebody who has a mental illness or how you can help them. That is an excellent program. And, ah, it's offered through many organizations. So that would be something I would encourage companies to have their employees attend. They are required to take first aid training in case they physically hurt themselves. Well, this talks about what happens if you psychologically are hurt, so it it's ah, it's a very active interactive program. I would I would suggest that the Mental Health Commission of Canada is the working mind. I course I would recommend that I would recommend using the APS that they have available and the resources that are online in Canada. We have what they call the national standard for psychological health and safety, and that's a document that helps implement psychological, health and safety programs in your workplace. So if there's an employer or manager out there listening, I would encourage them to get a hold of that it Z download low doble Free online and use that as a safety talk at your next safety meeting. I think if you haven't started the process about how you're going to deal with mental health and health and safety, psychological workplaces, now is the time we need to get get working on this. You know 500,000 Canadians a week is too many to be off work.

Safety Dawg:   21:09
Well, it's to be outwork, you know, we're taping this Ah, a few weeks after the horrific events in Halifax or in Nova Scotia, Um, you know, there's there is evidence of mental health issues almost daily and, as you say, 500,000 people just to be a taking a day off of work or several days off of work is a huge cost to the economy and every employer. So I agree with you. We should be addressing mental health, uh, in ways that we haven't done in the past. And I know your program. Our sorry. The program, the working mind that you facilitate will help go a long way. We're gonna have links down below in the show notes for many of these things that you've mentioned today because you've given me the links, Linda. Thank you. Any parting words that you would like Teoh bestow?

Linda:   22:10
The other thing I would recommend is take a look at yourself. And how are you feeling today? Do you have the same energy and enthusiasm that you've had before? And if not, why not? Um, the mental health continuum model, which is available on Google. It shows you, um, a color code, if you will. The red, yellow, the red, orange, yellow and green. So when you're in the green, a life is very, very good. No issues. Um, a day like a day like you're having with your computer problems and your technical problems. And perhaps there's downtown traffic somewhere that sort of put you down the grade and a little bit where you're feeling a little bit agitated and maybe you're not feeling too good about that happening. Put you in a different spot and just using that as a guide for yourself every day, saying, OK, where do I where am I today? Because really, I need to find my way up to that green area if I find I'm going further down towards the orange and the red. And if I'm at that rent, I need professional help. We really don't want our our industry to get there or anybody else, including their families. I know that there are families that use this color, uh, code, if you will, to determine what they need to do to help somebody else or themselves come back to an area where there feeling well so they can accomplish all the things they want accomplished in the run of a day and work safely. So on behalf of the Trucking Safety Association and Nova Scotia, I want to thank all the drivers or what they do. They always have been an essential service, and now the general public is aware of how essential they are. And I thank them sincerely,

Safety Dawg:   23:58
and I totally agree with you. And I know just before we end there's one thing that gets you a little bit riled up. So let's ah, address that, um, washrooms of being available or lack of washings being available for truck drivers?

Linda:   24:17
Yes, that that concerns me. And, um luckily, I there's there's ah post ah site where in different places across Canada, there are, um, areas where one can go to the washing. Whether it's to wash your hands, clean yourself up, um, and go to the washroom. Those are basics of life, and it does concern me that there are places in our country where nobody's allowed in. I can understand that for health reasons, but think about what that driver is doing. The driver is hauling the ness s is the necessities of life in that truck and a necessity of life. Uh, that they have at the workplace is too go to a washer. So if there's anybody listening note there that can help these drivers by making washrooms available, we would appreciate us.

Safety Dawg:   25:19
One of my, uh, clients is for lack of a better word. Ah, Porta potty company. You know, they have portable washings and their business spiked recently because some shippers who did want didn't want to let the truck drivers into their buildings because of coal bit. But they had the foresight or the good thought to put portable washrooms outside and then to maintain them and a clean, um, way that we would all appreciate. And so some of the shippers have really done a great job. Ah, and others. I could ask them to step it up with this. Yeah, well, Linda, thanks so much for being on the show. Um, you have a dead the dead bet. All the resources that you've talked about will be in the links down below. How to get ahold of you will be down below. And if our listeners and watchers have any questions for you, they can always send you an email. Um, anything else? Do you have Facebook pages for Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association? What do

Linda:   26:33
we got? A way of

Safety Dawg:   26:34
social media?

Linda:   26:36
Yes, we do have Facebook. We have twitter we have linked in, and we have our website and we have a phone and you can call us, and there's only three of us here. But one of us will answer the phone and we can do zoo if that's what you'd like. But no, we have not stopped our operation. We are so open regular hours.

Safety Dawg:   26:58
Thanks, Linda. So much. Have a great day.

Linda:   27:01
Thank you. Bye. For now

Safety Dawg:   27:05
I hope you love the show as much as I did. Please leave us a like a thumbs up. A review, a comment, a rating if it is so much. And I do really appreciate and join us again next week for another exciting injured.