7 ways to help an employee suffering with PTSD

lonely-1510265_640By Henry Brown

PTSD or post traumatic stress disorder is a debilitating condition that can ruin the life of someone affected by it. When this disorder enters the workplace, it becomes your duty to monitor it and do something about it if necessary. You need to tread carefully, however, as PTSD isn’t a quickly solvable disorder. If it isn’t treated properly and professionally, it can spiral out of control with ease. So, we’ve got a few things you can do to help a troubled employee.

  1. Is it PTSD?

Unfortunately, many of us are misinformed about what PTSD actually is. And, it’s not surprising, as PTSD doesn’t always present itself in an obvious manner. It can take weeks or months for it to arrive, and it shares many symptoms with other disorders. For example, in the case of a recent traumatic incident, it might be beneficial to look at a Health Assured CISM program. With the right type of instant treatment, you might be able to nip the issue in the bud before it gets any worse. In any case, do your research to understand PTSD and similar disorders properly.

  1. Identify the triggers

PTSD comes with plenty of triggers – instances that send the affected person into a state of stress. As an employer, you can help identify those triggers and put measures in place to help the person. Sometimes, they won’t even be able to understand what’s causing their symptoms to flare up. So, if you notice a pattern or a trend regarding certain tasks, colleagues or simply different times of the day, note them. Then, you can find ways to make their job easier.

  1. Make accommodations

There are a lot of accommodations you could make to help a suffering employee. You’ll ideally discuss this between the two of you, using your trigger information to identify certain needs. This can include everything from moving them to a different office to partnering them with colleagues. It might also be allowing them to step outside when they feel particularly stressed, or even go for a walk. You’ll need to be less expectant of them in general, allowing more time for training needs and task completion.

  1. Train your staff

Of course, you shouldn’t go blabbing around the office that one of your employees is suffering with PTSD. But, with the person’s permission, you should communicate it to their leaders/managers. It’s just as important for them to understand the issues being faced as it is for you to understand them. Effective training about PTSD and its symptoms is required if you want to protect the employee going forward. You can either do this in-house, outsource it to someone else, or take advantage of an online course.

  1. Allow flexibility

In terms of their attendance, you might need to think about allowing more flexibility. If you can allow the person to do their work from home, it’s always worth presenting the offer to them. Also, allowing them to spend time away from work for counseling scheme or doctors appointments is crucial. And, if you’re willing to let them leave on a moment’s notice and make up the time later, they’ll be thankful for the assistance.

  1. Hold regular meetings

Assuming you’re both in the know about the PTSD issue, you’ll need to work together. Regular one-to-one meetings are important for evaluation purposes. The idea is to look at the areas we’ve mentioned thus far and find ways to streamline them for maximum effectiveness. This allows you to keep tabs on the person’s condition and how they’re coping with it. You could even dress these meetings up as performance reviews to protect the confidentiality of the affected worker if you wish. The rest of the team need never know the real reason for them.

  1. Organize Them

When you’re suffering with PTSD, organization is often the last thing on your mind. In many cases, people are just struggling to get through the day, let alone organize themselves effectively. So, take this matter into your own hands when you get together for a meeting. Daily, weekly and monthly task lists can help to make things more manageable. You could use software like calendar management for this task. And, if they require more organizational support, you could even think about hiring a mentor if necessary.

We hope you feel a little more educated about the topic of PTSD. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to differentiate between this disorder and others. Once you’ve done that, you can be sure that you’re doing the right things to help.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

Leave a Reply

The Self-Employment Survival Guide can help you succeed. Learn all about it here.

Self-Employment Survival Guide book cover