PTSD is thought to affect almost 1 in every 3 people, and yet, it is still rarely spoken about within the workplace and many people do not know how to find support.
What is PTSD?
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and is usually associated with those who have suffered from a stressful, frightening or scary event in their lifetime. This could include a car accident, violence within the home, child abuse, natural disasters and even civil war. As it is an anxiety disorder, it can be triggered by a number of things, that is particular to that individual.
Everyone’s experience differs and so is the level of severity; for some it can lead to nightmares and insomnia, flashbacks and may even lead to avoiding people and situations altogether.
There are those who may have suffered multiple traumas over a number of years; this develops into a more severe form of PTSD known as Complex PTSD or CPTSD. These individuals may experience more issues later on in life.
What if you have an employee suffering from PTSD?
As with any disability, as an employer it is your duty to ensure appropriate adjustments are made wherever possible. You may notice an employee displaying unusual behaviour such as irritability, being noticeably more tired, lack of concentration and panic attacks or hyperventilating.
The key is to communicate with the individual with compassion and understanding. Being flexible will help and you may need to create a place if they need to take time away from their desk. They may require a leave of absence and this would need to be discussed in a confidential and sensitive manner.
PTSD following time in the armed services
Those who have returned from military service such as in the army or police force may very well experience a traumatic experience, leading to PTSD.
This can be very difficult for the individual’s family and friends, as well as a new employer if they do not continue in the armed services. They may begin to show a change of personality; they can become withdrawn, turn to drinking or in some cases, can turn violent.
It may seem the last thing you would turn to, but exercise is a great way to left off steam and release endorphins (the happy hormone!). Try taking up a new hobby such as rock climbing or weight training – many PTSD sufferers have seen how these hobbies have helped let them focus on something else.
Remember there is always support out there
It is important to speak with anyone you feel is suffering with the condition and where necessary, help them to seek professional help. PTSD can be a scary disorder to deal with so it is important to know that there is help out there.
There are many great organisations who are on the end of the phone if you are struggling, for example, the Samaritans (116 123) and Mind (0300 123 3393) are available for immediate assistance.
If you are an employer who needs some support in providing an employee with the correct help, SFB Consulting are happy to assit. Please give us a call on 01279 874676.