CORK taxi drivers will be encouraged to use their daily interactions with the public to help and support people suffering from depression and mental health issues.
A campaign by Aware and mytaxi called Drivers for Change will help drivers identify symptoms of depression and offer advice on how to have a conversation with someone who appears depressed, stressed, or anxious.
“Taxi drivers are very well placed in the community to assist in the reduction of stigma in the area of mental health,” Brid O’Meara, director of services at Aware.
Aware will hold a workshop in Cork in the coming months where they will advise taxi drivers on services available to people suffering from depression.
The three-hour workshop will cover topics such as Aware’s national services, an overview of mental health conditions in Ireland, symptoms of depression, how to have a conversation with someone who appears depressed, stressed, or anxious and positive mental health tips.
Drivers that participate in the campaign will also be encouraged to use Aware stickers and leaflets in their taxis as part of educating themselves and their passengers about mental health generally, the Aware organisation, and its services.
A workshop has already taken place in Dublin with drivers and was viewed as being very beneficial.
“Our first workshop with drivers, which is hopefully the beginning of many, was a very valuable opportunity to impress upon the drivers the role they can play in signposting information and supporting services where appropriate.
There is real potential for taxi drivers to foster positive change as part of this campaign.”
Roisin O’Brien, of mytaxi Ireland, said taxi drivers offer the perfect resource to challenge mental health stigmas.
The ‘Drivers of Change’ campaign will also involve public outreach using the driver-passenger video on Aware’s Facebook page.