Nina Tomaro | Marketing and Communications, Mind Share Partners
While it’s common for employers to host summer celebrations that often coincide with July holidays, it’s important to remain aware of the different experiences employees may have. Awareness around post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is especially important during the 4th of July when some employers may consider having fireworks at an office picnic or holiday celebration.
About 8 million adults (roughly 3.5% of Americans each year) have PTSD every year, and fireworks, explosions, and other noisy displays can raise anxiety levels, trigger panic attacks, and bring back traumatic memories. Here are a few things to keep in mind and be aware of.
What is PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault. Simply put, PTSD is a natural fear response to traumatic events, but one that persists for months or even years after the danger has gone.
Who experiences PTSD?
Combat veterans are often the focus of concern around the 4th of July, as the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates up to 20 percent of vets who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars experience PTSD.
However, PTSD triggers and symptoms are not limited to veterans, as anyone at any age can experience PTSD including but not limited to those who have experienced abuse, accidents, disasters, traumatic events, and loss of a loved one. It’s also possible for those who haven’t experienced an event first-hand but had a friend or family member experience extreme danger to experience PTSD symptoms. For example, the National Center for PTSD estimates that 28 percent of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop PTSD.
Keeping PTSD In Mind In The Workplace
While not all people who have PTSD will experience a trigger from fireworks, organizations should aim to create environments that are aware, supportive and tolerant to every employee. Instead of including fireworks within your company celebrations, it might be best to leave that for individuals’ personal time. Where possible, removing potential environmental triggers that are known to stir PTSD symptoms, such as fireworks, is a good approach and way to be inclusive during the holiday season.
Noise-reduction for PTSD is just one of many ways to create a company culture that supports mental health at work. Whether or not you have a diagnosis, every employee experiences mental health challenges, whether that’s stress, burnout, or an actual condition.
Learn more about mental health and stigma in workplaces in Mind Share Partners’ Mental Health at Work 2019 Report, and equip your company with the skills to name, normalize, and navigate mental health at work.
Nina Tomaro is a marketing and communications consultant at Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit that is changing the culture of workplace mental health so that both employees and organizations can thrive. It does this through awareness, workshops, and peer groups.
Nina is also working on a consulting basis with companies and brands to tell their story more effectively in a digital world. Previously, Nina launched her career in a unique startup community called "The Downtown Project" founded by Tony Hsieh in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nina worked with and consulted in every area of marketing for a variety of startups over a 4-year duration in Las Vegas. During this time she also performed speaker curation, helped entrepreneurs craft VC pitch decks and presentations, and supported several major events. Nina led the communications team for the largest arts festival on the West Coast and was the Marketing Director for a startup in the Edtech space.