Stephen Douris is recently retired from a 51 year career in the transport industry, working in a variety of capacities ranging from truck driver to logistics agent, dispatch to sales. He was also the successful, fully involved owner of two companies, one transport and one courier.
Prior to retirement, he became increasingly interested in workplace health and safety, and functioned as a driver representative in a non-unionized company. This interest was in large part due to his perception that abuse of power at the management level was increasingly causing mental health related issues in the employees, and that no readily accessible mental health-related services were available: employees who required them were either unaware they existed, or unsupported by management if they did try to access them.
Having gone through his own experiences with depression, having to declare personal bankruptcy, and losing everything, including his income and his house, he became aware of similar signs of depression in his colleagues. Whereas he had support throughout his battle, he saw others without that same support, compounded with workplace pressures which increased as performance decreased. Job losses due to poor performance, along with loss of health benefits, compounded desperate situations, and resulted in at least one case of suicide. He felt that his experience would be of benefit to those others struggling, that speaking would make it ‘less shameful’ in the context of male stoicism in that workplace, and that it was just ‘the right thing to do’.
His goal going forward is to continue to speak out, raise awareness of this rapidly emerging health care issue, and work towards becoming a facilitator in the arena of mental health.
“We must begin to talk openly about the issues that most of us, or one of our family members, have faced or will likely face at one point in life. Once it is out in the open, then it can begin to be solved. We are all in this together. It affects all of us. We all suffer, but we don’t always know how to help, and it is my goal to make sure that those who feel alone are made aware that they are not.”