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NSTSA Case Study and The Working Mind

The trucking industry is one that faces a variety of unique challenges. With employees regularly working longer hours, being isolated while on the road and high levels of stress, mental health continues to be a major topic of concern.

In 2015, the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association (NSTSA) saw a trend that was happening in the industry. An association focused on saving lives and reducing the toll of workplace injuries, NSTSA noticed the amount of workplace injuries had recently decreased but the duration of time off was trending upwards.  NSTSA decided to take a deeper look into the types of injuries that were occurring and discovered that “the focus for recovery was on the physical injury – it did not include the psychological injury, which was impacting the duration of time off” said Linda Corkum, Executive Director of the NSTSA.

Corkum, who had previously completed the Canadian Mental Health Association Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor training program as well as the Mental Health First Aid course, began looking into options to train management as well as workers in the trucking industry. It’s at this point where she discovered The Working Mind Train the Trainer program on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s website, and began researching the program.

Research suggests that drivers are at risk of several occupational-health-induced conditions. These include, but are not limited to, loneliness (27.9 per cent), depression (26.9 per cent), chronic sleep disturbances (20.6 per cent) and anxiety (14.5 per cent) – Trucking HR Canada

In 2017, Corkum and her team presented information on The Working Mind training to their Board of Directors – a group of individuals who represented businesses in the trucking industry. The NSTSA highlighted the science and research behind the development of the program and pitched the idea of becoming certified Trainers in The Working Mind. The Board of Directors immediately supported having the NSTSA involved in facilitating the training and tasked them with rolling out The Working Mind across the province.

The NSTSA began offering the training to groups around Nova Scotia and immediately noticed the training was needed and well-received. “Staff members want more of this type of information and resources,” said Corkum. “The Mental Health Continuum is something they can understand, and they appreciate the tips and techniques that are taught throughout the session. At the end of the training, participants chose to stay longer to just talk and share their stories. It is the first time they have opened up to share their story without the fear of stigma.”

Corkum added “There is visible evidence at every session that the training has had a profound positive effect on both employees and facilitators. We have started the conversation and that’s where healing starts. We have also seen better working teams because people understand each other better which has created a safer work environment.”

The NSTSA has seen a steady increase of interest from trucking companies to participate and offer this training to their staff. They continue to encourage management and owners to participate in the training to help open the dialogue around mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness in the industry.

If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can implement The Working Mind program, please email theworkingmind@mentalhealthcommission.ca.

A Certified Health and Safety Professional, Linda Corkum leads her team in developing and delivering
quality workplace health and safety programs for the trucking industry in Nova Scotia. Linda has received recognition awards for her leadership and commitment from the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health; the Nova Scotia Trucking Association’s Board of Directors and the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (Mainstay Award – Individual Safety Leader).

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