PTSD in the Workplace: How to Support Your Employees

PTSD in the Workplace: How to Support Your Employees

In the US, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is experienced by approximately 60% of men and 50% of women at least once in their lives. And while having PTSD is just as difficult to address and manage as having employees with it, seeking advice from a trusted mental health service will help guide you to establishing a safe and supportive environment for them to thrive in. 

Below, we discuss the signs and symptoms of PTSD and how you can support your colleagues in the workplace. 

Signs of PTSD

In the US, 7-8 out of every 100 people will experience post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by natural disasters, severe accidents, physical or sexual violence, terrorist attacks, or other causes. The condition is unfortunately common; however, this means that sufferers are far from alone. If you, too, struggle with PTSD, you have resources and support available.

While there are various factors that may increase the chances of a person developing PTSD, oftentimes it isn’t under their control. To understand PTSD further, here are a few common signs you will notice with someone who has PTSD:

  • Decreased productivity
  • Poor performance
  • Increased work absences
  • Decreased interest in activities 
  • Social withdrawal
  • Detachment from others
  • Irritability
  • High alert in their environment
  • Exaggerated reactions to sudden touches and noises
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Poor sleep

People who have PTSD commonly experience distressing memories or recollections from the particular event as well as incredible distress when exposed to certain triggers. They may try to avoid anything that reminds them of the traumatic event. Additionally, they may also feel bad about themselves and the world often. Fortunately though, PTSD can be treated with trauma-focused psychotherapy, including but not limited to the following: 

  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Cognitive processing therapy 
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy

When therapy isn’t accessible, medication has also been proven to be effective or used to supplement therapy. If you are suffering from PTSD, our mental health counseling team can help you create a treatment plan that works for you. 

Showing Up for Employees with PTSD

PTSD is difficult to live with, and supporting your colleagues with it can be challenging. The best way to express your support is by showing them patience and understanding. As mentioned above, the negative behavior will affect their work performance but it is almost entirely out of their control. 

Create a work environment and culture that encourages your team to seek help, especially for those living with mental health conditions. Asking for help can be a difficult task for many people, but with constant encouragement and support in the workplace, employees with mental health conditions, such as PTSD, will be willing to consider and even seek the treatment they deserve.

Approaching a coworker with PTSD with your genuine concern for them is tough; many people want to avoid being vulnerable in the workplace, as it potentially labels them as “weak” or “incompetent.” Addressing the conversation with sincerity will emphasize your intention and show that you truly care. 

Anxious about misstepping in the conversation? Don’t worry—these are often forgiven, especially when they know you care. Here are a few phrases and expressions to show them support:

  • I care about you but I’m worried about you.
  • I’ve noticed a few concerning changes in your work performance. How are you doing? 
  • Do you feel safe enough to talk to me about what’s going on? 
  • What can I do to help?

Moving Forward with PTSD Treatment

More than anything, people with PTSD just want to be understood. After you have listened to your colleague’s situation without interrupting, they may or may not be ready to seek help. One of the best ways to encourage them to seek help is by expressing to them that treatment can help them manage and overcome their PTSD over time. Offering to connect them with a trusted mental health service provider is another helpful gesture as well. 

Get Comprehensive Mental Health Services in Fredericksburg, VA Today

Overcoming PTSD is a great challenge, but the right support and treatment can alleviate the trauma and symptoms, leading to an improved quality of life and work performance and behavior. Therapeutic Alliance is a licensed private mental health agency that offers comprehensive, individualized behavioral, and mental health care services in Fredericksburg and throughout Virginia. Our services are client-centered, compliant, and regulated through the Virginia Board of Medicine, reflecting our commitment to providing compassionate and personalized mental health services. 

Schedule a mental health consultation with us today and contact (833) 319-0526!