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Shining Light on PTSD Awareness Day

It’s estimated that about 8 million adults have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during a given year.

PTSD can happen to anyone and is not a sign of weakness or an over-reaction. Over half of the U.S. population is said to have experienced trauma, which can lead to PTSD. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about 10 of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives and about 4 of every 100 men and can affect all ages.

Around the globe, individuals silently suffer from PTSD, which affects both veterans and non-veterans alike. To reduce stigma and increase awareness around treatment information, June is recognized as PTSD Awareness Month and June 27 as PTSD Awareness Day.

PTSD is often misunderstood and misidentified, which can contribute to stigmas and stereotyping and prevent individuals from disclosing their condition or seeking treatment. By sharing information and resources, business leaders and HR professionals can encourage meaningful conversations and dispel incorrect beliefs about those who have PTSD. Often, employees experiencing PTSD may display signs like a decrease in productivity, decreased interest in activities and withdrawing socially. Additionally, talking about trauma is uncomfortable and as a result, many employees will avoid discussing it or discussing any accompanying mental health challenges.

What can be done to open the door and encourage those experiencing PTSD to seek help?

  1. Establish a work climate and culture that encourages behaviors like seeking help.
  2. Share resources and spread awareness about the condition to break the stigma create a safe space for employees experiencing mental health challenges.
  3. Inform managers by providing training, education and action steps to follow if they believe an employee needs support or has PTSD.

Below are two accounts from OneDigital team members who have shared how PTSD impacts their lives.

“Prior to our marriage, my husband was involved in a bank robbery where he was held at gunpoint and then taken from the bank. This event immediately resulted in post-traumatic stress, panic and anxiety. Since the mid-90s, his suffering has affected more than just his own life. This has caused a ripple effect that our entire family continues to feel and deal with. It is so important to remove stigmas from mental health and those suffering with PTSD. The more we share our stories, the more we can provide empathy and understanding to those who need our help.”

“I personally have not had PTSD, however, I have experience with previous employers who made assumptions about me because of my military background. A hiring manager once asked, “Are you able to work indoors, since you were in the military?” The hiring manager assumed that all veterans have PTSD and are ticking time-bombs with emotional disorders. Although my resume reflected the past 12 years in an office setting such as bookkeeping, childcare, etc., she assumed I had been G.I. Jane crawling through the jungle, and that “you might have claustrophobia being inside all day.” It was disrespectful to me, and all veterans, including those who do suffer from the effects of combat.

“The second was at an organization where other staff members assumed I had been engaged in taking human life. I was fortunate not to have had that experience during my time in service. Nobody should assume that all veterans have experienced that, and nobody should ask a veteran, “Have you ever killed anybody?” I have known veterans who have had to use lethal force. For someone who may be experiencing PTSD, asking such a question could trigger flashbacks and difficult emotions. The military has different service roles depending on the branch and job function. Not everyone is in a combat zone or firing a weapon.”

The consequences of PTSD left untreated can be dire. Depression, anxiety, additional trauma and even suicide can go hand in hand with PTSD.

By raising awareness of the condition, creating a safe place where employees feel comfortable asking for help and combatting the misinformation and associated stigmas, you create an inclusive environment that supports employee mental health and engagement.

For more information, visit the National Center for PTSD or contact your OneDigital team to be review resources that can assist in targeted initiatives.