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Trauma View

by msecadm4921

Security employers must be ‘trauma aware’, says a charity to do with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Trauma can produce depression and behavioural problems for staff in the workplace – whether the condition was caused during or even long before their current employment. Without treatment, the result can be extended sick-leave and dismissal, and a legal liability for the employer, according to Piers Bishop, director of therapy at charity PTSD Resolution.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects up to 30 per cent of people who experience a traumatic event – some 5 per cent of men and 10 per cent of women in the general population (NHS 2011).

In the security sector the incidence of trauma is much higher, because of the nature of the work in close protection, manned guarding and other roles – and due to the disproportionately large number of armed forces services’ veterans and reservists employed,. Some 20 per cent of ex-service men and women have mental problems from war zone deployment, according to official United States estimates (Veterans Association 2011).

This is not a reason not to employ armed forces’ veterans, as the skills and experience that they bring are often unique and indispensable. But it is incumbent on security companies, within their duty of care to employees and clients, to be able to recognise the symptoms of trauma and to understand how to refer a sufferer for effective treatment.

Whilst staff may not want an official diagnosis of PTSD, perhaps because of any associated stigma or any effect on their medical records, they could require help to deal with the symptoms of trauma – such as poor sleep, nightmares, anger and excessive alcohol or drug use, which can impact on the work and home life.

A visit to a GP is often not good enough, Piers Bishop says, because the present treatment pathway can be slow and often relies on inappropriate use of medication, with variable quality of outcomes. His advice to managers includes the following:-

1. Develop a company culture that is responsible not macho. Operational machinery is maintained regularly and repaired when necessary, so it is rational to adopt the same approach with your people, as a minimum.

2. If you manage people who may experience trauma, keep an eye on their behaviour. If someone is involved in an incident and seems to have changed, it may be a sign that they will need help.

3. When you have a concern, perhaps because of security incident, let staff know that you are aware of what they have been through, that the company policy is open about stress reactions and to get help if necessary so that everyone can continue to work well together.

4. If an employee does not seem to be returning to their normal attitudes, demeanour and behaviour after a few weeks, open a dialogue about how they would like to be helped to recover.

5. Develop a relationship with a supplier that has experience of post-traumatic reactions and can deliver brief interventions that return people to work. The cost of a typical course of treatment should be very much less than the costs of supporting an unwell employee down the line – or worse still coping with the collateral damage if someone does something unfortunate while traumatised in your employment.

Source: www.ptsdresolution.org/tate

Piers Bishop is director of therapy at PTSD Resolution (charity number 1133188) which treats veterans of the armed forces for PTSD for free. It also organises one-day courses for private and public sector managers in the public and private sector – ‘Trauma Awareness Training for Employers’ – visit –

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