PTSD in the Workplace

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), typically comes from witnessing or experiencing an incredibly distressing or catastrophic event, or number of events. Most people associate PTSD with military or emergency response incidents, but PTSD may occur in any workplace.

PTSD is often a mental illness that occurs when a someone experiences something extremely frightening, stressful, or overwhelming. Typically, the presentation is unexpected, along with the person feels powerless to influence the actual end result. Often the incident causing PTSD necessitates the threat of death or serious injury. Some examples of these incidents include combat, an organic disaster, a vehicle, or perhaps assault.

PTSD is usually a mental illness and will be difficult to identify and diagnose. Although some people’s start PTSD might be quick, others might not exactly notice issues for many years. Common signs and symptoms of PTSD include:
• Flashbacks
• Severe anxiety
• Nightmares along with a persistent a feeling of fear
• Anxiety
• Anger
• Loss of feelings
• Paranoia
• Depression
• Inability to concentrate

In the office, any serious safety incident contains the potential to cause PTSD. The highest risk occupations for developing PTSD are military personnel, first responders, dispatch receivers, corrections officers, doctors, and nurses, but ultimately PTSD might occur from any serious safety or health incident. Something like a manufacturing accident might cause PTSD, but so can similar to workplace bullying.

PTSD is often a serious mental illness and workplace education can be a long way to identify the warning signs of PTSD and support those that have PTSD. Management and employees should receive PTSD training aimed at destigmatizing the sickness, general awareness, resiliency, signs or symptoms, available support, and the ways to support others. If you think that a co-worker is suffering from PTSD, you need to encourage them to search out support, offer your support, and become understanding of any reasonable accommodation that they will need to continue inside their job. Depending on the person’s PTSD symptoms, you will find workplace accommodations which can be effective and relatively simple to implement, including:
• Flexible scheduling
• Noise canceling devices
• Written instructions and requests
• Modifying break schedules
• Allowing assistance animals
• Modifying workplace lighting
• Repositioning their workspace
• Disability awareness practicing staff
• Time management training
• Allowing music or headsets
• Reducing non-essential job functions
• Regularly scheduled supervision/feedback
• Consistent shift scheduling

Employers may consider providing use of support services, just like an employee assistance program, and also the time off was required to utilize such support.

It’s crucial that you understand that PTSD will not be limited to high-risk occupations – any workplace could potentially cause PTSD. Workplaces where staff are at and the higher chances of experiencing or witnessing traumatic events will incorporate PTSD education as an element of their standard workplace training. It is essential to conduct a risk assessment to recognize potential risks and hazards and develop policies, procedures, and programs specifically address PTSD.

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