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Mental health support for nurses. What to do if a colleague has PTSD?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


Mental health support for nurses. What to do if a colleague has PTSD?


Understanding how to support someone with PTSD can seem daunting if you have never experienced mental health problems before.


In truth, PTSD can happen to anyone, and it is important that anyone suffering from the effects of PTSD is treated with respect, compassion, and patience.


Colleagues experiencing PTSD may experience a variety of symptoms, including flashbacks, stress, fast heart rates, sweating, panic attacks, irritability, and many, more. It is essential to become familiar with the possible symptoms so that you can help identify colleagues who might need support.


As an employer, it can be hard if you see an employee struggling, there may be obstacles in the way, such as the person may be in denial or not acknowledge they have a problem.


Let's have a look at how PTSD can affect the workplace.


The impact of PTSD in the workplace

PTSD can affect every aspect of a person's life, making it difficult to hold down a job or create meaningful relationships.


Here are some ways PTSD can impact the workplace:

● PTSD can be exhausting, and a lack of trust in others can lead to breakdowns in relationships and feelings of isolation

● Performance can be affected as PTSD can cause concentration problems and feelings of being overwhelmed.

● Exhaustion can cause people to be irritable or make mistakes in their work.



How to support colleagues experiencing PTSD

Supporting colleagues who are suffering from PTSD cannot be a one-size fits all approach. Everyone has their own triggers and coping mechanisms.


Here are some ways you can support colleagues experiencing PTSD



Build trust with your colleague

Treat your colleague with kindness and respect. PTSD can result in a lack of trust in others. Help them rebuild positive relationships in their life.


Help make workplace adjustments

PTSD can make attending work difficult. Minor adjustments may help make your colleague feel calmer and safer whilst at work. This could be working or sitting in a different location, working in a quieter environment if possible, or taking small, short breaks if they are feeling panicked.

Promote open conversation around mental health

People suffering from PTSD can struggle to talk about what they are experiencing, or even admit that they are struggling at all.

Help promote a safe environment by talking openly about mental health issues without judgement.


If appropriate, encourage your colleague to seek help

If you think a colleague is struggling with their mental health, even if it is not PTSD speaking to a medical professional will help guide them to any help that is available.


How can you make a difference?

If you are not part of management at your workplace, you may feel that there isn't much you can do to support your colleagues are they recover from PTSD.


However, just by being supportive, checking in on them, and offering a non-judgmental ear can help make them feel safe and start to rebuild positive connections with others and the world around them, aiding them in their recovery journey.



Reflection

  1. Are any of your colleagues struggling with PTSD?

  2. Are there ways you could offer them more support?

  3. Do you think your workplace is doing enough to support mental health issues?



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