PTSD and Work – Where to Get Support

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The symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make it challenging to keep up with the demands of the workplace. However, experts say that working can be beneficial for people with PTSD and form part of their recovery. 

In addition to giving you more financial freedom, working in a supportive environment can have a positive impact on your mental health, build your confidence and give you a sense of achievement.

If you’re struggling to find suitable work or cope in your current job, support is available. 

It’s important to reach out for help when you need it. The right support and services can help you feel more confident about managing PTSD symptoms at work and overcoming challenges that come up along the way.

Here are 5 places to get support for living and working with PTSD in Australia:

1. GPs and Mental Health Professionals

If you’re experiencing the symptoms of PTSD or struggling with your mental health, a trusted GP or General Practitioner is a good place to go first.

When you tell your GP about what you’ve been experiencing, they can make suggestions, provide information and point you in the right direction if you need further help.

Your GP may give you information about lifestyle changes and medication that may help your situation. 

They may also refer you to a mental health professional such as: 

  • Psychologist 
  • Psychiatrist
  • Counsellor
  • Occupational therapist
  • Community mental health services

Mental health professionals can help you access tools and to cope with the challenges you’re facing. If appropriate, they’ll work closely with you to create a treatment plan to help you work towards mental well being.

2. Disability Employment Services

If you’re having trouble finding work or are worried about losing your current job, you could be eligible for government-funded employment assistance.

Providers of the Disability Employment Services program help find jobs for people with an injury, illness or disability – including mental health conditions.

They can also assist with accessing workplace accommodations, assistive technologies and ongoing workplace support to help you thrive in your job.

The best jobs for people with PTSD tend to be low-stress jobs with flexible scheduling so you can take time off when needed. However, everyone’s needs when it comes to work are different. Talking with an employment consultant can help you discover job opportunities that are a good fit for your skills and needs. 

3. Your Employer

If mental health issues are affecting your performance at work, you might consider talking to your employer about it.

You’re not legally obliged to disclose any mental health condition to your employer unless it affects your ability to perform the essential tasks of the job. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of disclosing – and it might help to speak with a professional beforehand.

If PTSD symptoms are impacting your attendance or performance at work, talking to your boss could improve communication. Your boss may be willing to make changes in the workplace or your role to support you.

Workplace accommodations may include things like:

  • Reduced hours or time off for recovery
  • Working from home
  • Scheduled break times
  • Private office space or rearranged workstation
  • Assistive technologies and software

In Australia, employers are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to help employers do their job safely and properly. If you feel like you have been discriminated against because of a mental health condition or disability, you can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission.

4. Helplines and Online Counselling Services

In Australia, there are a number of free digital mental health services where you can get support online or over the phone. 

For urgent support and counselling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Other hotlines include:

Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36

Beyond Blue offers free online chat and phone counselling for people dealing with depression and anxiety.

MensLine – 1300 78 99 78

A counselling service for Australian men. Contact MensLine via phone call, online chat, email or video chat.

eHeadspace – 1800 650 890

eHeadspace provides free online and telephone counselling for young people aged 12 to 25 years old. 

SANE Australia – 1800 187 263

SANE Australia provides support for people living with complex mental health issues, as well as their carers. 

Blue Knot Foundation Helpline – 1300 657 380

The Blue Knot Foundation provides support, information and resources for adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.

5. Peer Support Groups

PTSD support groups are a good way to connect with others who have similar experiences to you. Speaking with others who understand your symptoms and can empathise with your trauma may help you feel understood and support your recovery.

Peer support groups are often held in-person in your local area, but there are also many support groups online.

You may find sharing your story with others helps you process your trauma. Or you might find that listening to others helps you cope better with the challenges you’re facing. 

Many people find that opening up to others in a supportive and understanding environment helps them process emotions and find solutions. You may be able to share and listen to helpful tips on how to handle the everyday challenges of living and working with PTSD.

You can find support groups in your area by searching on Google or visiting a mental health services website such as Black Dog Institute or SANE Australia.

Get help – You’re Not Alone

Whether you’re experiencing PTSD symptoms and haven’t spoken to anyone yet or have been living with a mental health condition for many years – it’s important to reach out for help.

Living with PTSD and other mental health conditions can be challenging, especially if you’re trying to navigate the world of work at the same time. Getting the right support can help you feel more confident moving forward.

Don’t wait to reach out. Seek help today.