Supporting Drivers During Tough Times
by Ellen Voie, on Jun 2, 2020 3:36:00 PM
The trucking industry has long been a male-dominated environment, and although things are changing, it's still predominantly men behind the wheel, in the corner office, and the shop. As women are drawn to the industry, they are often unprepared to deal with some of the issues they may face, specifically when it comes to coping with diversity challenges.
Many of the women who are seeking tuition funding from the Women In Trucking Scholarship Foundation cite negative reasons for getting a CDL. Often, they are survivors of domestic abuse, spousal harassment, or worse. Yet, when we offer them a scholarship, education doesn't include topics to include needed coping skills.
To make matters worse, our drivers are dealing with unprecedented pressure to keep our economy moving by delivering their loads, despite the potential exposure to COVID-19. How are we supporting these women and men in maintaining their mental health stable in addition to their physical security?
At the Women In Trucking Association, we recognized this need and found the answer by partnering with the leading behavioral health company, ESPYR, to support our driver members. We know that a driver's physical and emotional health is being compromised in this pandemic, so we found a way to help alleviate this challenge.
Every commercial driver in the WIT membership roster is provided free ninety-day access to ESPYR's Fit To Pass ® coaching solution which offers customized health screening support. This service is to reinforce and create healthy behaviors to ensure the driver's successful DOT recertification.
Importantly, mental health support is also included through the TalkNow ® a 24/7 mental health and emotional wellbeing support line for drivers and their families. TalkNow lets people talk to a qualified professional immediately and without an appointment. By making a phone call, they're connected with a licensed clinician to talk through almost any immediately troubling issue – personal or work-related. It’s a barrier-free way to reach immediate assistance. One of our driver members shared her struggle with mental health issues on Facebook, "Really struggling with the stress lately. I get all jittery inside and I get mad easily. It's my normal PTSD response but quite exaggerated due to stress over the virus. I'm not working, staying home, not laid off, no benefits, no money. I don't know what else I can do right now." We reached out to her, and a counselor is now working with her.
These two services were able to be offered to all of our commercial drivers through the generosity of Amazon's Chris Heine, who recognized the need to support these front-line workers in these trying times. Amazon agreed to cover the services for all of our driver members for these ninety days. Drivers have the option of renewing on their own when the free period concludes.
ESPYR coaches have reached out to these drivers to offer their services, and the response has been rewarding. Drivers are sharing their concerns about dealing with COVID-19, as well as the stresses they are experiencing on a daily basis. Each driver also receives a weekly health tip as a text or email to prompt small changes to create a healthier lifestyle.
For many drivers, the apprehension they face before they must renew their DOT physical is crucial. Weight management, smoking cessation, and health challenges due to diabetes sleep apnea, and more weigh heavy on a driver's mind before recertification. ESPYR's Fit to Pass ® coaching has already helped many of our drivers lose weight and eat healthier in anticipation of their upcoming physicals.
Margaret, a professional driver from Pennsylvania, sent this message, "Thanks so much to whoever set up the 90-day free health coaching! I am having a blast getting fit, increasing my flexibility, range of motion, cardiovascular fitness with the help and encouragement of Diana at ESPYR. Yesterday, I fit into a dress I haven't worn in years. Thanks for this opportunity!"
Thanks to Amazon for recognizing the need to help our drivers in staying both physically and mentally strong. We also say thanks to ESPYR for providing the coaching and behavioral health expertise to provide the personal, customized attention these drivers need.