Drivers and mental health

The importance of mental health support for drivers – guest post

Here we have a guest post from Bryan Silverio, a blogger from OK Rehab:

There are many aspects of the modern world that can affect mental health – in some areas more than others, and for some individuals more than those around them.

One of the groups of individuals that are heavily impacted by mental health struggles are bus and coach drivers. This is often because of the demands of their field of work, though it does not mean that all bus and coach drivers are likely to struggle with mental health issues, or that they necessarily struggle more than others.

This article aims to explore some of the reasons why bus and coach drivers may struggle with mental health, the issues that may arise because of this and some of the additional issues that they may face as a result of this.

Multiple studies have been conducted into the mental wellbeing of bus drivers in the UK, often finding that many issues stem from feelings of lack of control within the organisational changes of the company that they work for, lack of support and the threat of physical assault while on the job [1].

This can lead to a range of mental struggles, dissatisfaction within the workplace, and an overall sense of deteriorating mental health – all of which can worsen over time if not picked up on and treated accordingly, specific to the individual and their individual needs and requirements.

Occupational health and job satisfaction of bus drivers

As mentioned above, due to the nature of a bus or coach driver’s job, they may be likely to experience mental health issues as a result of this, leading to further problems in the future.

Though some studies have linked these mental health issues to additional personality factors, this is not always the case.

For example, an analysis of 596 bus drivers in China found these individuals were more likely to be neurotic, psychotic and extroverted than the general public and that their mental health issues were more likely to be due to demographic and personality factors [2].

In turn, mental health issues can also impact the individual’s job satisfaction. For example, if a bus or coach driver is struggling more and more with mental health issues and associates this as being a result of their job, then they may begin to resent their position, adding to the issues associated when at work.

This is known as impacting their occupational health i.e., their health at work, or in their current occupation.

What has the pandemic meant?

In addition to the struggles that bus and coach drivers may face on a daily basis, the Covid-19 pandemic also impacted individuals working in this area rather severely.

In many cases, bus services were massively reduced, if not stopped completely, in order to be compliant with the rules and regulations of the country that they work in.

In addition, coach drivers may have had far fewer opportunities for work as standard clients, such as tour groups, wedding parties and other private coach hire jobs were unable to go ahead due to the stay-at-home orders introduced.

Overall, this will have meant that many bus and coach drivers were out of work for a long period of time, leading to more time at home with no work to occupy them, as well as a reduction in funds – if not a total cut off from payment during this time.

Many bus and coach drivers will have also been let go during this time, as the companies in charge will have not been receiving any commission for work, and therefore they may have seen their staff as redundant during this time.

Bus driver wellbeing review

Overall, there are many areas of a bus or coach driver’s wellbeing that may be affected by the struggles of their work.

For example, even though their mental health may be the main issue for these individuals, this can also impact many other areas of an individual’s life and everyday behaviour.

The following outlines some of the key areas in which a bus or coach driver may be impacted as a result of mental health struggles, as well as in their own rights.

In any case, if an individual feels as if they are struggling with any of the areas mentioned below, then it is vital that they seek help as soon as possible, as these issues can quickly worsen over time, sometimes leading to severe and long-term damage that can require extensive and specialised treatment to overcome.

  1. Physical health

Although mental health is often deemed as being ‘all in your head’, there are actually countless ways in which it can affect the individual’s physical health.

This is often due to the larger concept of stress, and the ways in which this can impact an individual’s physical health.

When an individual perceives that they are struggling with mental health issues as a result of one factor or another (in this case, their occupation as a bus or coach driver), then this can lead to additional stress in their position, as well as the stress that they have to deal with on a regular basis.

For example, stress is known to impact sleep, eating patterns, substance abuse and exercise – all of which can have extreme impacts on an individual’s ability to go about their daily lives, as well as their physical wellbeing [3].

  1. Psychological health

Mental health is also strongly associated with psychological health. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they can also be classified slightly differently.

Mental health is often used to describe specific disorders and issues that an individual may face, whereas psychological health refers to the overall wellbeing of the individual’s brain and its functioning.

For example, modern research is beginning to show that mental health issues can actually impact the individual’s brain structure, its ability to take on new information, and the individual’s overall brain plasticity [4].

This all impacts the individual’s psychological health, as it may impact their ability to partake in everyday activities, process information and go about their day as they normally would.

This can especially impact the individual’s attitude and behaviour at work, sometimes making them far less reactive, less motivated and behave differently in the workplace. When driving a bus or a coach, this can have serious impacts in some cases.

  1. Alcohol use

With all mental health issues, there is a strong correlation with the deterioration of the mental wellbeing to a point where they may turn to substance use or abuse in an attempt to cope with these struggles.

Though there are many substances that an individual may choose to turn to in the face of mental adversity, alcohol is one that is perhaps most regularly associated with bus and coach drivers.

Studies in Russia, for example, have shown that alcohol concentration in the blood should be taken into account before a driver starts their shift in order to reduce traffic incidents and move toward a safer approach to bus and coach driving within the country [5].

Alcoholism is a serious addiction and can often require long-term and complex care to deal with in the individual’s ongoing recovery, especially when the individual has been addicted to the substance for a long period of time.

Alcoholism rehabilitation is often the best course of action for anyone struggling with an addiction to alcohol, and those struggling with alcoholism should seek help as soon as they recognise the addiction in order to reduce future health complications.

Help should always be sought from professional services, and all care will be undertaken in a safe, friendly and effective manner.

  1. Absenteeism

As a result of mental health struggles and mental illness within an individual’s position as a bus or coach driver, they may begin to display absenteeism – the development of repeated absence at work for no reasonable reason.

Currently, mental health is not seen as a reasonable reason in the UK, though this is changing and becoming more accepted across many companies and fields of work.

If more and more individuals are absent from work, continued service within a bus driver’s route or a coach driver’s schedule will become increasingly difficult, often leading to increased complaints, frustration from clients and issues in transport around the individual’s area of work.

This can lead to financial struggles for the company that the individual works for, as well as additional pressure on those who continue to attend their position of work, sometimes requiring overtime or additional stress for those who have chosen to attend work.

  1. Future directions

Mental health issues within bus and coach drivers can also impact the directions that they choose to take in the future, such as whether they stay in their field of work or not, as well as their choice of mental health support and engagement within specific programmes and/or treatments.

This may begin to impact the hiring process of bus or coach companies, as well as the number of staff they employ.

If an individual becomes so overwhelmed with mental health issues as a result of their job, then this is a serious issue that should be treated as such, causing additional pressures on bus and coach companies to provide suitable support, mental health-specific training, and care for their staff in general – something that not many companies are willing to do, despite the increasing pressure from governments, councils and unions.

This can also impact life satisfaction, which can be an entire issue in its own right.


If you are struggling with mental health, as a bus or coach driver or not, then it is important that you seek help as soon as possible, as well as recommending it for individuals who you may know who may also be struggling.

It can be a difficult conversation to have, so it is important to remain open-minded, actively listen to what they have to say and provide suitable recommendations where possible.

To start finding support and help where needed, start doing your research today and find out what is available in your area, as well as any support for specific needs (such as addiction, etc) that you may need.


[1] Duffy, C.A. and McGoldrick, A.E., 1990. Stress and the bus driver in the UK transport industry. Work & Stress, 4(1), pp.17-27.

[2] Wang, X., Wang, K., Huang, K., Wu, X., Huang, W. and Yang, L., 2021. The association between demographic characteristics, personality, and mental health of bus drivers in China: A structural equation model. Physiology & Behavior, 229, p.113247.

[3] Larzelere, M.M. and Jones, G.N., 2008. Stress and health. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice, 35(4), pp.839-856.

[4] Kays, J.L., Hurley, R.A. and Taber, K.H., 2012. The dynamic brain: neuroplasticity and mental health. The Journal of neuropsychiatry and clinical neurosciences, 24(2), pp.118-124.

[5] Kekelidze, Z.I., Polyansky, D.A., Shport, S.V. and Soloviev, A.G., 2020. Alcohol as a risk factor for accidents among bus drivers. Ekologiya cheloveka (Human Ecology), 27(11), pp.60-64.



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