Accommodation Ideas for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety related disorder which is characterized by symptoms that occur after exposure to an extremely traumatic event. A person with PTSD may re-experience the event in a number of different ways and may also develop feelings of guilt about surviving when others did not. According to DSM-IV, the trauma may have resulted through “direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury, or other threat to one’s physical integrity; or witnessing an event that involves death, injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of another person; or learning about unexpected violent death, serious harm, or threat of death or injury experienced by a family member or close associate” (424-428).
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV, 4th Edition. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC, 1994.
Common accommodation situations that arise for people who have PTSD include:
- Managing Stress: An individual with PTSD may benefit from a flexible work schedule, liberal use of leave time, being allowed to work from home, a reduction or elimination of work-place stress, and scheduled rest breaks away from the work station.
- Maintaining Concentration: It may be beneficial to reduce audible or visual distractions in or near the person's work area. Accommodations may include using sound absorption panels, using an environmental sound machine, using watches and timers with prompts, allowing employee to use a headset to listen to music. Consider arranging personal work space so that the desk faces the door; using a universal signaller to indicate when someone enters the work cubicle; or moving to a private office or area with less distractions.
- Managing Depression: Developing proactive work-place strategies may help prevent employment related problems before they arise. Such strategies may include providing sensitivity training to co-workers, allowing telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for support, and allowing easy access to information on counseling and employee assistance programs.
- Interacting with Co-workers: Educating all employees on their rights to accommodations, not mandating that employees attend work related social functions, and encouraging all employees to move non-work related conversations out of work areas can enhance co-worker interactions.
- Reassignment to Another Position: The employer and employee may agree that reassignment to another open position within the organization would be a reasonable accommodation solution.