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As part of our continued commitment here at YourGP to raise awareness of safeguarding mental health in the workplace, this month our Occupational Healthcare specialists are focusing on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and highlighting the vital role employers can play in getting sufferers the help they need.
What is PTSD?
PTSD can affect anyone who experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Symptoms vary according to the individual but they can include flashbacks to the traumatic event, intrusive thoughts, recurring nightmares, anxiety, excessive sweating, trembling, or feelings of nausea. It is of course completely understandable and normal for anyone to experience these symptoms after a traumatic event, but should these symptoms continue for a prolonged period, for a month or more, it is essential the individual seeks professional help.
How can PTSD impact on a person’s worklife?
PTSD can have a huge and devastating effect on a person’s life. They may display some of the following behaviours at work:
How can PTSD be treated?
It is never too late to seek help – PTSD can even be successfully treated many years after the traumatic event occurred, for example. The first step is to talk openly with a medical professional who will be able to advise what the best course of action is. This could be Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy, or Group Therapy, for example – all of which can be effective tools for helping the individual confront and understand their feelings, and find a way to move on.
How can an employer help someone with PTSD?
Be open and approachable: If they feel a need to talk, be open to the conversation and allow them to go at their own speed. Listen to their worries and concerns, be patient and understanding. Most importantly, make it clear that they will be in no way discriminated against for admitting they are struggling and need help, and ensure they know they are safe and supported.
Offer practical suggestions: If, for example, they are finding it hard to concentrate or are feeling distracted or on-edge due to noise in the office, find a quieter place for them to work. If they are feeling anxious, help them to break down their responsibilities into smaller, more manageable tasks and use scheduling apps to help them focus and manage their time better. Encourage them to take full advantage of all break periods away from their desk to help to limit any stress and anxiety. And finally, ask them if there are any other practical measures they think they might benefit from.
Be flexible: Enable them to work from home when possible and be flexible with hours – this can help to reduce absenteeism by empowering them to choose to work when they feel up to it, and take vital rests when they need it.
Educate your team: Create a more empathic working environment by ensuring all team members have a good understanding of mental health, encouraging all to ask for help at work if they need it. The subject of mental health can be covered on team training days and included in your company guidebook.
Seek professional help: If you are worried that the individual’s symptoms are worsening significantly, speak to a qualified professional to provide the help they might need.
Find out more
To find out more about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, head to www.ptsduk.org. And if you would like to discuss ways in which you can make safeguarding the mental health of your team a priority, get in touch with YourGP’s team of Occupational Health specialists on 0131 225 5656 or email email@example.com. We can work with you to create a bespoke healthcare package for your employees, providing appointments on-site at short notice when needed.
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