With the wave of Covid related lockdowns rolling across Australia, many people are all having to work from home, alone, working in isolation with little support. As the lockdowns lengthen there are a number of concerns raised about the effect of this on these home-based workers and their mental health.
There are initiatives and studies going on for these employees who work locked into their homes, only allowed out for some shopping and exercise. This is, apparently, a difficult thing for people to cope with and so some mental health help is required.
There is an element of familiarity about this situation. Shut into a small space but having to do a full day’s shift, being monitored and given instructions about the task you need to complete via a small screen. Being pressured to get tasks done while also in isolation with no-one to talk to, no friendly office chatter.
Sound familiar? Yes, welcome to the world most truckies have been living with for their whole lives. The strain of being on your own and having to work on your own initiative, having to problem solve on your own without a team with you to help and offer suggestions. That is the life of the truckie summed up.
These truckies who have been doing this job for decades have not rung alarm bells for the mental health community. Instead, they have had to learn to cope and put up with some pretty dodgy working conditions
In fact, the pressure doesn’t stop there. On top of the isolation you have to add in abuse and an uncaring attitude from other road users, who put their own and the truckie’s lives in danger on a regular, and unrelenting, basis.
The abuse and uncaring attitude can also be found at some of the worst loading and unloading points, where a verbal war between truck drivers and the staff who deal with truck drivers all of the time can be pretty hard going.
However, the mental health care community were not mobilised to help out those truck drivers, they had to sort it out on their own. Now, I am not saying the general population who now have to work from home should be left to their own devices and be left to hang out and dry.
My point is that when the Covid panic does eventually calm back down and all of these people get to go back into their offices for the long term and get all of that camaraderie, perhaps those concerned with mental health could turn their attention to the truck driving community and the problems the kind of isolation truck drivers live with can create over the long term.