The way we all approach mental health has improved in recent years. It is talked about more openly and there is more of an understanding and less taboo. Ultimately, most acknowledge that it’s okay to not feel great all the time.
However, in some communities and industries, there is still a stigma attached to anxiety, depression or other mental health issues which means people keep them hidden away due to added fear that they could lose their livelihood if they seek help.
Those working as taxi drivers can very much count themselves in this category.
It is widely regarded that one in four adults in the United Kingdom suffers from at least one mental health illness in any given year. This is equivalent to 25% of the population, or in this case, a quarter of all taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers.
According to a report by Mind, approximately only 1 in 3 adults with a common mental health problem are currently getting treatment in the form of talking therapies, medication, or both.
The most common treatment offered is psychiatric medication.
It is estimated that 75% of people with mental health problems in England may not get access to the treatment they need.
With the taxi industry in mind, that equates to over 82,000 cabbies across the UK likely to have experienced mental health issues in the last 12 months.
WHAT STOPS TAXI DRIVERS GETTING HELP?
There is one overriding fear that stops cabbies in their tracks. The fear of losing their job.
If a taxi driver visits their GP or another NHS professional for help it is likely to appear on their medical record. The driver may then need to contact DVLA and their licensing authority and notify them of the condition and the treatment prescribed should the GP see necessary.
This fear understandably stops drivers seeking help. How would they know the severity of their issues before diagnosis, so why would anyone risk not only their job, but in lots of cases the financial welfare of his or her family?
The job itself, working long hours alone, sitting down all day, poor eating habits, late nights, high overheads, stress of driving, and the list can carry on, are all triggers.
With professional help often off the cards, taxi drivers have set up self-help WhatsApp groups. Drivers talk to other likeminded cabbies about the stresses and pressures they feel and how they try to cope with similar anxieties and depression. But it’s not professional help and the wrong advice can just fuel problems further in some cases.
Many licensing authorises put out what can only be described as token gestures. These gestures usually include information on mental health charities, visit your GP and generic advice on managing triggers. But, authorities know full well that drivers won’t get the help they need because of policies put in place by them and the DVLA Group 2 criteria usually set for cabbies.
Taxi drivers are quite simply not getting the help they deserve.