What to Know
- In response to the spate of for-hire driver suicides across NYC, a new “driver wellness” program offering free counseling has launched
- The Driver Wellness program seeks to destigmatize mental health care, providing free counseling, case management services and classes
- Counseling services are available in English, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, and Mandarin
In response to the spate of for-hire driver suicides across New York City, a new “driver wellness” program offering free counseling has launched.
The Independent Drivers Guild launched the new mental health and wellness program for for-hire vehicle drivers with support from the Black Car Fund (BCF).
The one-of-a-kind Driver Wellness program seeks to destigmatize mental health care, providing free counseling and case management services, as well as classes to address and prevent crisis situations.
The Guild’s counseling services are available in English, Spanish, Urdu, Bengali, and Mandarin.
“Too many drivers across our city are in crisis—with nine suicides that we know of in a little over a year. We are launching this program to provide drivers with much needed support and to save lives,” Executive Director of the Independent Drivers Guild Brendan Sexton said in a statement.
“At its core, this crisis is largely driven by the economic insecurity of the for-hire vehicle industry. At the same time as we stand up for fair pay for drivers and remedy the exploitation in this industry, we also must give drivers and their families much-needed resources and support. We aim to erase the stigma of mental health care, create a community of support and stop the suicides,” Sexton's statement goes on to say.
The Guild and BCF were joined by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and New York City Council Member and Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez to launch the program.
“As a mental health crisis continues to grow in the community of drivers that has been New York City’s backbone, it is clear that we in city government have failed this community of hardworking people just trying to keep up,” Williams said in a statement.
Rodriguez shared similar statements.
"We cannot sit still as drivers suffering from mental health issues and financial stresses take their lives,” Rodriguez said.
The Guild’s Driver Wellness program focuses on both prevention and crisis intervention. The program includes weekly driver discussion circles, immediate counseling services for high-risk individuals, case management support, a community network of participants trained on identifying warning signs of a mental health crisis who can carry out mental health first aid and a wellness curriculum.
"Being a for-hire driver in this city takes a toll physically and mentally, and both these issues must be addressed. The program we proudly announce today can save lives and will have a positive effect on the well-being of thousands of drivers,” Chairman of The Black Car Fund Board and President of Vital Transportation Inc. Berj Haroutunian said in a statement.