‘Remember we’re humans’: Why mental health check-ins matter to your fleet

Have you checked in on your people lately?  

May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and it serves as a crucial reminder that we should be consistently recognizing and addressing the mental health challenges people across our organizations can face, including and especially our professional truck drivers, but also those who work to support them. Beyond acknowledging this fact, ensure everyone in your fleet knows that help is available to them no matter what they’re facing.  

Supporting mental health goes beyond putting up posters and setting calendar reminders. It’s about genuinely asking your people how they are doing, recognizing and remembering what’s important to them, and being aware of how they respond to everyday work demands. Not everyone shares their struggles openly, so regular check-ins with your team are essential. 

Ahead of the Mental Health Awareness Month, the NTI team surveyed a range of trucking professionals about what mental health programs and support systems currently exist in our industry, as well as areas for improvement. When asked about how openly their company talks about the importance of mental health and well-being, nearly 70% of survey respondents said “not at all.” 

Read more updates From Leah’s Desk.

We can and must do better by our people!  

Our employees are our most valuable resource, and their well-being is paramount. Despite the often relentless pace of the trucking industry, it’s essential to take the time to let your employees know you care about their mental health and you are there to support them. As one respondent aptly put it: “We work like machines, but remember we are humans.”  

Instead of using Mental Health Awareness Month as a once-a-year conversation, I encourage you to commit to making mental health a central part of your workplace environment throughout the year. This includes training and enrichment sessions for frontline workers, providing ample and readily available resources, and fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and support. 

Training shouldn’t stop after onboarding  

Training your frontline managers at the time of hire or promotion isn’t enough. According to NTI’s survey, 83% of respondents feel that those supporting drivers and diesel technicians in their organization are inadequately trained to address mental health concerns. 

Consider how you can incorporate regular mental health training that will empower and enrich your people to feel confident in their knowledge, enabled to make decisions, and equipped to support their team. Whether conducted internally or through a third-party provider, it’s important to educate your managers on recognizing signs of mental distress and provide them with the tools needed to support the mental well-being of our drivers and diesel technicians. 

Provide and promote mental health resources  

Review the benefits your fleet offers to ensure that they support the mental well-being of your employees. Evaluate your current health plan design and check to see if mental health services are covered. Explore mental health resources within your community, such as hospitals and counseling centers. Most group health plans offer an employee assistance program that could also enable access to telehealth counseling services. Regularly communicate the availability of these resources and actively encourage your people to use them.   

If your health plan provider doesn’t provide a prepared toolkit, below are a few helpful resources accessible to all:


Creating a culture of empathy, understanding and support 

One of our greatest lessons working with so many fleets for over 25 years: begin with empathy and understanding. Life on the road can be mentally draining, and simple conveniences like a clean shower and access to a gym are often out of reach for drivers. Returning to work postpartum and balancing motherhood can be overwhelming. Even the strongest leaders I know struggle at times and need support. 

Think beyond the core plan EAP or posters on the wall: Consider partnering with a national gym chain to provide your drivers with gym access and clean showers. Offer more flexible solutions for working mothers. Equip executives with the necessary resources to address mental challenges that come with leadership. Creating a culture where mental health is openly discussed and supported will lead to long-term benefits for both your employees and your company.  

Fleets often share that the fast-paced trucking environment can make it easy to overlook checking in on the team’s mental well-being. However, to foster a supportive work environment (and ultimately one where people want to stay), we must check in on our people, be understanding of their challenges, and work to find solutions to better support their mental health.   


Until next time, be safe and well! 


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