A “huge increase” in mental health concerns in haulage during the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the Unite trade union to push for an industry standard to tackle the growing crisis.

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, a roundtable event involving senior figures from the haulage, warehousing and logistics sector is taking place to discuss how to address the problem.

Attending the event are industry representatives from Biffa, ECM, Hanson, Wincanton, Gist, DPD, DHL and Suttons.

Unite recently warned that there was now a mental health epidemic in the UK after a survey revealed a clear link between the increase in stress brought on by the pandemic.

It said the aim of the roundtable event is to secure agreement for detailed research into mental health issues in the sector and begin work on agreeing an industry standard on how to tackle the problem and support workers who experience mental health challenges.

Factors likely to increase mental health issues in the sector include isolation and loneliness, long hours and shift work.

In some areas of the sector a traditional macho culture can result in workers being reluctant to seek assistance.

Diana Holland, Unite assistant general secretary, said: “Unite’s reps have reported a huge increase in the number of members raising mental health concerns since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and in the road haulage and logistics sector they are determined to support positive mental health and make a real difference.

“The nature of the sector means that the mental health of workers is often challenged by the nature of the work they undertake.”