In observance of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, we can become more aware of what PTSD is and what we can do to help. Awareness of PTSD can help prepare you to support others and care for your own needs in the face of trauma.
What is PTSD and Who Can Get It?
In today’s connected world, we are quickly made aware of national and global threats and tragedies. When you are directly exposed or a witness to these events, it’s common to react with feelings of fear and a desire to create distance from the threat. These are normal human reactions and often serve a survival purpose. Once the threat is removed, your reactions may subside.
However, when your reactions of fear continue to be frequent and intense in the absence of a threatening or traumatic experience, they may interfere with your ability to function at work, in relationships, and ability to enjoy life. These PTSD reactions can include:
- Recurrent unintentional thoughts or memories of the trauma
- Feelings of distress
- Avoidance of things that remind us of trauma
- Problems sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling distant from others
- Negative thoughts and/or mood.
These symptoms are common to PTSD and can affect anyone. A medical professional can conduct an evaluation to determine if these symptoms meet the threshold for a PTSD diagnosis before recommending treatment.
Getting Help for PTSD – Tools and Resources
If you are struggling with PTSD, treatment can help you – you do not have to live with your symptoms forever. Below is a list of tools and resources available to you and your loved ones:
- Your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program provides health plans with a variety of mental health services that can help you and your family.
- DHS Components with peer support programs have trained peer volunteers to provide support for colleagues with work related or personal issues. For more information, contact your Component Work-Life point of contact or your Component HR office to connect you with the peer support program lead.
- Visit the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD site for a variety of useful resources and the Veterans Crisis Line connects veterans with culturally-competent help, many of whom are veterans themselves.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a free, confidential, 24/7 treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and substance use disorders.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has several mobile apps with tools to help focus on mental health, including dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. To learn more and access these apps visit, VA Mobile Apps - My HealtheVet.
- The Columbia Protocol app offers suicide risk assessment through a series of simple questions that anyone can ask. The answers help you identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, assess the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that someone may need.
- Your Component Work-Life team has programs that support emotional, psychological, and social well-being in the workplace and at home. They offer resources available to focus on common life stressors, such as dependent care, personal relationships, financial literacy, and legal concerns. To learn more, contact your contact your Worklife Agency Coordinator or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Employee Assistance Program Can Help
If you or a someone you know has experienced lingering symptoms following a trauma, your Component EAP can provide you free and confidential support. EAP counselors can assist with determining whether a formal mental health evaluation is needed.
EAP services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, contact your Component EAP or send an email to email@example.com.