Information for employers and employees
ADVICE FOR EMPLOYEES
Trauma can affect you at any time, immediately after an experience or months or years later, and it can manifest itself in various ways. If you feel you may be affected please contact us on .
There are some things you can do to help yourself:
- Give yourself permission to grieve, due to changes in your life
- Allow yourself more rest than usual – trauma can be very tiring
- Share your feelings with those with whom you feel comfortable and safe
- Don’t feel you have to talk about what happened to you, but expect the need to talk about it for a considerable time.
- Be open about what kind of support you want and don’t want.
- Be cautious about making major decisions in the early months after a traumatic experience
- Speak with one of our counsellors, who will respect your feelings and thoughts.
ADVICE FOR EMPLOYERS & COLLEAGUES
In order to cut the costs incurred in changes of staff and to optimise productivity, good employers and managers should be aware of ways to support their staff and colleagues.
It is important for those who work with trauma survivors or those bereaved by a traumatic experience to know about traumatic stress, because they are in an ongoing process of healing and recovery. It can take months or years for people to recover.
It is essential to keep in mind that pressing someone into discussion of a traumatic event soon after exposure may have a detrimental effect on some traumatised individuals. While some people prefer to discuss the traumatic experience, others may not. Furthermore, by overriding a reluctant individual's need to avoid reminders of the trauma and to be left alone in the immediate phase of a trauma, particularly in situations where bereavement is involved, it may be associated with increased risk for developing PTSD in some individuals.
While many individuals who work with trauma survivors experience an enhanced sense of meaning, self-esteem, respect for the strength of others, and connection with humanity, research is beginning to show that, for some individuals, working with trauma survivors, under certain conditions, may have negative effects. Those who work with survivors may begin to show signs of stress disorders ranging from difficulty sleeping to PTSD symptoms such as intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and heightened reactivity.
Some ways employers and colleagues can help:
- Let the person suffering from a traumatic experience know that you are aware of trauma issues
- Be yourself - even if you don’t know what to say. Just knowing you understand helps
- Ask about how they are feeling, as it may not be obvious
- Don’t worry if they get upset. It’s natural
- Ask them if there is anything you can do
- They may not wish to talk about the incident
- It may be difficult for them to feel motivated or to meet deadlines
- Their ability to concentrate may be affected
- Allow them to work at their own pace & allow time off and or ask if they would rather work at weekends, when it may be quieter
- With their permission, other staff members should be informed
- They may need information, advice and education about trauma and/or loss
- Ask about arranging extra help and support for them
- Let them know about support services and/or groups
- Realise that they may have a lot on their plate
- Help by treating them the same as everyone else
- Give permission for them to have time off (even if just 30 minutes)
- Understand that they do not get just over it, but they learn to cope with their feelings and changes over time
- Help them make new plans and take on challenging projects
WHAT IS POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological and physical condition that can occur after experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other situations in which a person feels extreme fear, horror or helplessness.
PTSD is not the only psychological condition that can result from a traumatic event and many people suffer from other conditions such as phobias, such as travelling on public transport.
Symptoms usually develop immediately or within three months of a traumatic event, although occasionally they do not begin until years later.
PTSD has been called ‘shell shock’ or ‘battle fatigue syndrome’, because it first came to prominence in the First World War with soldiers’ memories of the trenches, but the term was first used after the Vietnam War.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
- Flashbacks, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when exposed to anything reminiscent of the traumatic event, such as an anniversary
- Sweating and shaking, avoidance of reminders of the event and a refusal to discuss the experience
- Numbness and feelings of estrangement or detachment from others
- Avoidance of reminders of the event and a refusal to discuss the experience such as not travelling on the underground
- Problems with concentration, sleeping, irritability or outbursts of anger
- It can result in long-term behavioural effects, increased alcohol abuse and drug dependency and mental health problems including severe depression, anxiety disorders or phobias. People may also have other physical problems such as headaches, stomach upsets, chest pain and general aches and pains, together with a weakened immune system.
Other services that may help you:
NHS Trauma Support on or e-mail the team on
CBI – Confederation of British Industry
Department for Employment & Learning
Labour Relations Agency