This June Why Employers Must Celebrate National PTSD Awareness Day
PTSD, which means Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, occurs after people experience or witness a life-threatening event. With more and more people reporting mental health issues, the awareness on PTSD has never been more important. Approximately 7.8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, and nearly 30 percent of war veterans also experience it. More than 50% of PTSD sufferers never seek treatment.
It is a sad fact that many people across the globe suffer silently with PTSD. June 27 is observed as PTSD Awareness Day to raise public awareness and offer support to those affected. It provides an opportunity to talk about this disorder and learn how it impacts those around us with our families and friends.
History of PTSD
PTSD in some form or another has been mentioned since ancient period. The earliest known literature about the PTSD is found in a poem from 50 BC. Hippocrates depicted a traumatic event in which a soldier experienced PTSD-like flashbacks after the battle. Since then, PTSD has been repeatedly noted, during England's Hundred Year's War with France, and even in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
A new understanding of PTSD developed with the American Civil War in the 1800s, as the disorder became common in a traumatized society. The concept of post-traumatic stress disorder first appeared in medical literature in 1915 during the world war I, under the name "shell shock."
During World War I, the disease was brought into the spotlight, and treatments like electric shock therapy were attempted. It wasn't until the 1950s that more modern treatment methods were introduced, such as group therapy.
As a result of the Vietnam War, the disorder gained a new understanding. The research coincided with research done by psychologists looking at Holocaust victims as well as rape victims, which proved that trauma of various kinds can cause PTSD. We have made great progress over the years as we have ample information and awareness about PTSD, that is now considered largely treatable.
What is PTSD?
It is normal to feel scared during or after a traumatic event. A fear triggers response in the body to defend or avoid against danger in a split-second manner. When this response is imbalanced and the individual goes into paranoia in difficult situation, it is PTSD behaivour. Even in the absence of danger, PTSD sufferers may feel stressed or frightened.
Rather than feeling better as time passes, the person may become more anxious and fearful. Although PTSD can disrupt a person's life for years, treatment can help them recover.
Symptoms of PTSD
PTSD can be experienced differently by different people. Symptoms may appear years after the traumatic event occurred and may include:
- Flashbacks of the past traumatic event
- Problem remembering the event or timeline
- Sudden mood swings
- Emotional Void
- Unreliable behavorial patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal Thoughts
As a result of PTSD, additional health issues may arise. A person with PTSD might also experience mental health concerns such as anxiety, alcohol or substance abuse, depression, and thoughts of harming others or themselves.
Mental Health Statistics That You Should Know in 2022
According to World Health Organization (WHO), 450 million people currently suffer from mental illness, a figure which is showing a alarming trend.
80% of people suffering from schizophernia are extreamly vulnerable to extreme mental health responses.
Around 10% of US citizens above 18 years of age encounter depression and anxiety related illness.
Every 1 in 3 children in UK have shown serious psychological issues. Only 1/3rd of them have ever seeked medical help.
5 Interesting Facts About PTSD That You Should Know
PTSD is widespread, with 3.5% of adult Americans suffering from it. That amounts to 8 million people.
10% of women and only 4% of men are likely to develop PTSD, which means women are more likely than men to develop this illness.
PTSD is widespread among veterans. In fact, it is estimated that 30% of those who served in the Vietnam War have suffered from it.
Children can also develop PTSD symptoms. They do so differently than adults. There is still much to learn about this subject as research is very new.
Our first knowledge of PTSD comes from literature, including Shakespeare and Dickens. As they described traumatic experiences, the symptoms they described resembled those of post-traumatic stress disorder.
PTSD In The Workplace
Experts say that there is no one set of triggers for PTSD. In the absence of healthy work environment, or a stressful event can act as a catalyst. The trigger may be a perception or realization of some incidents from their surroundings or a paranoid response to a tough situation .
Things which can trigger PTSD in the Workplace are-
- Employees not feeling physically safe at workplace.
- Emotional Abuse or bullying
- Racist Behavior or workplace discrimination
- Sexual Harrasment
- Lack of appreciation from work
Sometimes the office culture can also contribute to PTSD. If it is prompted by overworking or unrealistic performance expectations, employees get burdened with an undue pressure. Sometimes instances like expecting you to work when on vacation; and not allowing you to use your benefits, such as vacation time, or leaves brings workplace stress for employees. It is a sign that it is not psychologically safe for employees.
According to Kelly Kellerman, licensed clinical social worker at Thriveworks, workplace PTSD can also arise when an event from office triggers stress response from the employee’s previous traumatic life experience. “A coworker or supervisor who is aggressive or manipulative can remind a person of an abusive parent, or an employee may have to walk to a car in a dark parking lot and it can trigger a memory of a past sexual assault,” she said.
Ways To Celebrate PTSD Awareness Day in Your Workplace
1. Spread the Word
Understand the symptoms and causes of PTSD, and what resources and treatments are available to those with PTSD. You can conduct PTSD awareness sessions where famous psychologists can hold interactive sessions with the employees or have an interactive session over zoom.
According to the National Center for PTSD, one of the main purposes of PTSD Awareness Month is to spread the word on the disease to others. They recommend a variety of outreach ideas, from providing a blog post to collaborating with local officials and NGOs to leverage June as PTSD Awareness Month.
2. Conduct Perodic Mental Health Assessments
You can stay one step ahead in workplace wellness by conducting quarterly mental health assessments. Prepare set of questonarires and assess the health condition of your employees. Based on the score they get from their responses, provide them individual counselling or even medical support.
In long run encourage some mental health days off in your workforce. This will help to deal with mental health concerns in preliminary stage in an institutional manner.
3. Focus on Enhancing Workplace Engagement and Communication
Sometimes employees may find it tough to switch off from an unpleasant experience which bothers them, that causes undue stress and trauma. Due to lack of options for them to engage, communicate and interact with co-workers, they get alienated and that effects their mental wellness.
By enhancing the engagement among the workforce, employers can help the employees batling mental health by diverting their mind.
An overwhelming percentage of people with PTSD are deprived of proper wellness assessment and medical support. It is always appreciated when a greater community comes forward and contribute as a unit to manage PTSD better in our societies.
There are various government institutions and NGOs that are constantly putting up a brave fight against PTSD. With whatever amount you are comfortable with, contribute to these causes. This can bring gratitude, satisfaction and social entitlement among employees.
June 27 is the date when the world becomes one to talk about PTSD, that is associated with experiencing an event of trauma. The trauma causing PTSD in the workplace can originate from many events — potentially an accident, a natural disaster, or a personal loss. To diagnose the PTSD in the workplace, a trained professional should be assigned. Based on symptoms such as hypervigilance, mood swings, recurring and involuntary flashbacks, and avoidance, the professional must update the employer and the management about the corresponding wellness situation.
During PTSD Awareness Month, the National Center for PTSD encourages everyone to educate themselves and others about the illness, and to share resources with those who may need them.
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