The Independent Drivers Guild, which supports drivers for Uber, Lyft, and similar services, timed the launch of the program amid a widespread strike that gained global attention.
During a week when the two largest ride-hailing services faced a widespread driver strike, an organization that represents those drivers launched a program that focused squarely on the mental health of drivers.
The Independent Drivers Guild, a group focused on drivers with Uber, Lyft, and similar services in New York City, launched a new Wellness and Counseling Center, which offers a variety of free benefits for members of the guild, including discussion circles; counseling for individuals, couples, and families; and a variety of classes relevant to drivers, such as financial planning and chauffeur training.
The program is being funded by the Black Car Fund, an NYC-based nonprofit that focuses on driver safety.
In comments reported by CBS New York, the guild’s executive director, Brendan Sexton, characterized wellness issues among the city’s drivers as a widespread crisis and said that there have been nine suicides in a little more than a year.
“At its core, this crisis is largely driven by the economic insecurity of the for-hire vehicle industry,” Sexton said, according to the station. “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.”
Ira Goldstein, the Black Car Fund’s executive director, echoed the sentiment.
“We hope that this program will not just improve lives—but also save them,” Goldstein stated.
The program comes amid this week’s widespread driver strike, which drew global attention and received notice from major political figures. The protest was timed immediately ahead of Uber’s initial public offering on the stock market this week; Lyft had its IPO in March.