Radio communications company GME has partnered with Rural Outreach Counselling (ROC) in a bid to encourage truckies to open up about their mental health.
The Open Road, Open Up initiative uses the UHF CB Channel 24 as a free support platform for those who need it, spearheaded by high-profile driver and road safety advocate, Rod Hannifey.
For truck drivers in remote and regional areas, staying in touch can mean the difference between life and death, said GME safety expert Tony Crooke.
“GME is proud to partner with ROC, and Rod Hannifey to launch Open Road, Open Up, an initiative that we hope can help change the statistics surrounding truckies’ mental health through the power of a UHF radio,” Crooke said.
To equip Hannifey with the counselling strategies to support truckies and those in remote areas, he has received mental health resources and support through ROC’s MateKeeper Campaign.
ROC sees the impact that long working hours, isolation, and time away from family and friends has on truck drivers, as well as others working and living in rural communities.
“I know first-hand how hard it can be out there on the road alone,” Hannifey said.
“I have seen friends struggle with their mental health because they don’t have the opportunity to open up properly and talk about their feelings.
“I want truck drivers to know, if you see my truck, tune in. I’m here on Channel 24 to have a chat whenever you feel like talking.”
More trucks will be rolling out across Australia with Open Road, Open Up signage over the coming months. GME and ROC will also expand the initiative by training more truck drivers to be part of the programme.
While Channel 24 is a public channel to ensure that anyone can tune in and have a chat when in range of one of the trained drivers, they will not be able to identify who is calling in, stresses GME.
In addition, Hannifey and other trained drivers will also not ask for personal or identifying information.
If a driver wishes to speak to a mental health support person or professional anonymously, Hannifey, and the others, have contact information that they can provide.
GME added that recent government research has uncovered the devastating impacts of the often thankless job of truck driving, showing that mental health issues are among the top three most common medical conditions for truck drivers, with one in two drivers reporting some level of psychological distress.
Lifeline: visit the website or call 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: visit the website or call 1300 22 4636
Health In Gear: visit the website or call 1800 464 327