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Workshops being rolled out to taxi drivers to help deal with passengers in distress

Aware and Mytaxi have launched a campaign encouraging drivers to promote positive mental health.

Image: Wanderley Massafelli via Rolling News

A NEW INITIATIVE is being launched to encourage taxi drivers in Ireland to use their platform to help promote positive mental health and to teach them how to deal with people in distress.

Mental health charity Aware and Mytaxi have teamed up to launch the Drivers for Change campaign.

As a pilot project for the campaign, a number of taxi drivers participated in three-hour workshops that covered topics such as Aware’s national service, an overview of mental health conditions in Ireland and symptoms of depression.

The workshops also aimed to help taxi drivers understand how to have a conversation with someone who appears depressed, stressed, or anxious.

Aware aims to roll out the workshops to dozens of more taxi drivers over the coming year.

Christopher Flynn, a driver with Mytaxi who attended one of the workshops, said: “The Aware workshop and introductory training gave me a real insight into the mental health challenges faced by so many people in Ireland on a daily basis.

It supported real awareness-building for me, and now I feel better equipped to impact positively on the general population around mental health issues.

“I would strongly urge my colleagues to also get involved in this campaign because our daily interaction with the public gives us a real opportunity to relieve some of the pressures felt by those suffering in this area.”

Drivers that participate in the campaign are also being asked to use Aware stickers and leaflets in their taxis as part of educating themselves and their passengers about mental health.

Director of Services at Aware, Brid O’Meara explained by the initiative was launched: “Taxi drivers are very well placed in the community to assist in the reduction of stigma in the area of mental health. There is a real potential for taxi drivers to foster positive change as part of this campaign.”

‘It can be very lonely’

The campaign also aims to help taxi drivers better deal with their own mental health too, as it can oftentimes be an incredibly lonely profession.

In DecemberTheJournal.ie spoke to one taxi driver who said that he chooses to work every Christmas Day due to loneliness.

“There are a lot of drivers who are divorced. It can be a very lonely time of year,” he said.

“Going to work is the only way they may be able to see anyone on Christmas Day. I’m divorced myself. I’d be waking up with no decorations around me. You’d just get out to meet people.”

In Ireland, one in four people will use a mental health service at some stage in their lives, according to Mental Health Ireland.

Earlier this year, Unicef published a report outlining that Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide amongst teenagers in the EU.

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Aware 1800 804848 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 1800 247247 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 666666 (for under 18s)

Read: Suicide survivor Kevin Hines: ‘Don’t silence the pain. You can get past it, one day at a time’

More: Michael Healy Rae on suicide in his constituency: ‘It didn’t register. I didn’t get it.’

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