Would you know if one of your employees or colleagues was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Would you recognise the symptoms? More importantly, would you know what steps to take that could help?
Although most commonly associated with the armed forces, one in three people develops PTSD following a traumatic experience, and symptoms can manifest as phobias, depression, severe anxiety, chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, chest pain, sweating and shaking.
Therefore it’s not hard to see how the effects of this condition can interfere with a sufferer’s ability to work – particularly if they have experienced trauma in the workplace.
In the case of military personnel, PTSD is a particular concern.
11,000 serving personnel have been diagnosed with conditions including PTSD, with under 18s at most at risk of developing the condition when they leave the forces.
Once they do leave, PTSD can impact their daily lives for years. In fact, following WW1, 65,000 veterans were still being treated for ‘shell shock’ ten years later.
While three out of four veterans find they can resolve their symptoms through counselling, and many non-military sufferers turn to counsellors for help, for everyone, the workplace can be a difficult environment to broach the subject of mental health.
Employers may not realise what a crucial role they can play in helping sufferers cope with PTSD and even aid their recovery, so it’s a communication barrier that needs to be addressed.
This infographic, produced by personal injury specialists Johnson Law Solicitors, highlights some shocking statistics on PTSD, including startling figures on the embarrassment sufferers feel about their condition:
- Over 93% of veterans admit to feeling ashamed about their mental health problem
- On average personnel suffer for 13 years after discharge before seeking help
- Personnel in the field are three times more likely to admit to symptoms if asked anonymously.
Even away from a military environment, admitting to mental health problems like PTSD can be a scary prospect as employees may fear it will be viewed as a sign of weakness or that it could put their job in jeopardy.
However, by recognising the signs of PTSD and the challenges that sufferers face, employers and HR departments can make simple accommodations for staff that will make their day-to-day lives easier.
Open discussion about the physical and mental health needs of employees should be encouraged to a degree that sufferers feel comfortable admitting to their condition, so that steps can be taken to offer individual help.
Such steps needn’t be costly or difficult to implement, but can make a huge difference.
For example, does an employee’s PTSD cause problems with their memory? Would it help to allow them to record meetings? Or post written instructions on how to use equipment?