It’s easy to romanticize the life of a trucker. After all, who wouldn’t love the freedom of being on the open road and being paid for it at the same time? In reality, numerous studies show truckers are more susceptible to developing mental health issues than people working in other professions.

Why Truckers Have Mental Health Issues

Drivers have to meet tight deadlines and be constantly alert of potential hazards while on the road. And while increased deregulation may seem like a good thing, it has contributed to more competition and resulted in lower wages. There’s also a lot of stuff that needs to get where it needs to go thanks, in part, to the boom in online ordering. Truckers could also be affected mentally by:

• Financial concerns
• Job-related stress
• Time away from loved ones
• A lack of social support

The Nature of the Job Coupled with Industry-Specific Concerns

According to one study, close to 30 percent of truckers report having feelings of loneliness. Another study found that a quarter of drivers have relationship problems because of their time spent on the road. A lack of sufficient sleep can further increase issues with depression and anxiety. Truckers are also faced with industry-specific concerns, such as:

• The poor state of certain roadways
• An uncertain future due to the possibility of drones and other technology reducing demand for human drivers
• Vehicle repair costs, which can be especially worrisome for owner-operators

Vacations and Time to Refresh and Charge

Technology does make it easier for truckers to remain connected with loved ones while on the road by video conferencing and texting. Even so, knowing when to take time off to refresh, recharge, and reconnect with friends and family members in person can help reduce stress, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Truckers may also be able to enjoy periodic vacations by:

• Requesting time off as far in advance as possible
• Taking short “mini-vacations” on certain weekends
• Saying no to overtime now and then to allow more time to plan relaxing activities after work

Maintaining Good Mental Health When On the Road

Due to the need to actually make a living, constantly taking vacations isn’t an option for most truckers. But there are still ways truckers can be mindful of their mental health when back on the road. Recommendations include:

• Creating consistent driving schedules
• Taking little breaks throughout trips to reduce the urge to turn to unhealthy snacks, tobacco products, and alcohol to deal with stress
• Avoiding the temptation to turn to various substances to mask mental health issues
• Using video conferencing and other tools to connect with therapists and other professionals to discuss mental health concerns even when on the road

Lastly, it’s important for truckers to know when to seek help if they are dealing with serious mental health issues. There is a long-standing image of truckers being tough. However, putting both physical and mental needs first and taking advantage of available resources is what ultimately makes a truck driver more productive and healthy.