Remote Work: A Solution For Working With PTSD?
Only recently has the world begun to acknowledge the impact of mental illness on not only individuals but on society as a whole. In the past, due to lack of understanding, research, social stigma, and other factors, mental health was considered to be “all in your head.” Nowadays, the healthcare industry has come to realize just how drastically psychological disorders affect the lives of those who suffer from them.
One of the major Trauma and Stressor-Related Disorders occurring with increasing frequency is PTSD, or “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.” PTSD typically occurs after a person experiences a traumatic event; examples can be varied and include such events as military combat, natural disasters, physical or sexual assault, or major accidents. This disorder is an issue that affects millions of people worldwide. Of those millions, a reported 20% are in the United States. Sufferers from PTSD struggle with flashbacks, nightmares, and triggers from otherwise benign things. Such symptoms often make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to lead normal, healthy lives.
As a result, those with PTSD are often not able to hold down employment.
With the rise in popularity of remote work and the technology to make it more efficient, an answer is on the horizon. Remote recruiting not only gives your company access to worldwide talent, but it also provides a major benefit to a worker who may be suffering from PTSD. The key is to understand the various triggers specific to the individual and learn how to support them when episodes do occur. And when you are ready to build a remote team, get in touch with us, and we’ll help you out!
PTSD On The Job
People with PTSD suffer from a number of psychological and physical symptoms. These symptoms vary from person to person but often include dizziness, sleep disturbances, depression, and panic disorder. On top of that, many otherwise common occurrences can trigger their PTSD. It can be anything from a car backfiring to the smell of someone’s cologne; any person, place or thing can set someone off, depending on that person’s particular trauma. WebMD states that the onset of a trigger is sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle, to the point where the sufferer might not be completely aware of it.
According to PTSD.gov, “people with PTSD have more unemployment, divorce or separation, spouse abuse and a chance of being fired than people without PTSD.” Both their personal life and their professional life are at risk because of this debilitating disorder.
For a clearer picture, here is a list of common triggers for those with PTSD. According to confinedtosuccess:
- High-Stress Situations
- Big Crowds/Excessive Noises
- Unnatural Light
- Abundant Human Contact
- Strict Work Environment
- Fixed Schedule
- Limited Emergency Exits
- Unsafe Work Neighborhood
With this type of criteria, the right job can seem almost nonexistent. That’s where remote employment comes in. With the ability to work remotely, someone with PTSD can maintain complete control of their work environment, thereby minimizing disturbances and triggers which could potentially disrupt their day-to-day work responsibilities. Obviously, remote work is not limited to only those people suffering from PTSD; individuals with other types of mental and physical disorders can benefit from remote work, as well. Check out a list of the ideal characteristics for a person seeking remote work here.
Recruiting With PTSD
According to Nancy B. Adams, branch chief at the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command (as told to Fortune.com), “there’s a stigma attached to PTSD and traumatic brain injury and other hidden disabilities that people may assume soldiers have when they’re leaving the military … such trauma may be addressed through simple steps, such as rearranging a desk chair to face the door.” A lot of companies have a fear of dealing with someone with PTSD and their symptoms. In a study done by the American Psychiatric Association, two-thirds of PTSD sufferers are unemployed, including sufferers without a military background, despite discrimination laws being in place.
As Task & Purpose points out, “if you are nervous about hiring someone with PTSD, then you should be nervous about candidates with depression, anxiety issues, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, and more.” In her interview with Fortune, Ms. Adams went on to mention that people with PTSD may need extra consideration to help them feel at ease in their surroundings. However, with remote recruitment, the physical environment is completely up to the worker and as a result, managers no longer need to worry about providing an ideal work environment. Remote recruiting also eliminates the need for real estate for the company, which saves a considerable amount of money for companies who are able to hire remote employees. We mentioned in a previous article, How Remote Workers Save Companies Money, that businesses can save as much as $10,000 per year per remote employee, just in real estate costs.
The Benefits Of Recruitment
Hiring remotely is the perfect solution for companies facing shortages of local talent, significant real estate expenses, or high employee turnover. And it can also be the perfect solution for someone suffering from PTSD. As a remote worker, they are in complete control of their environment, helping them limit exposure to potential triggers. Not only can they work in an atmosphere that allows them to perform at their best, but it also provides employment to an individual who would otherwise be unable to perform in a traditional office setting. Companies who embrace remote work and hire employees who struggle with PTSD (and other mental health concerns) enjoy the increasing benefits of remote teams.
As a manager of a remote team, it’s important to be aware of everyone’s needs, including those with mental disorders. Many sufferers of PTSD feel embarrassed to ask for help. It may often be up to you as a manager to take the initiative and ask your employees how you and the other members of your team may provide support. When communicating with them, pay close attention to both what they say and how they say it. If they are more comfortable writing an email, send an email. For those who prefer verbal communication, make sure you do not interrupt them when they do start to speak about their issues and concerns, as this could impede their willingness to discuss these topics in the future. Good communication is the only way a remote team can survive. If your employees feel like they are on the same page with you, you’ll have successful results. At the end of the day, employees with PTSD are trying to make a living like everyone else, but with the added burden of what it often extreme inner turmoil at the same time. Only the person suffering knows what it feels like to endure their particular nightmares, and while we can only hope treatments and therapy will continue to improve, having the flexibility of a remote job and a manager who communicates with them will make a world of difference. And for someone with PTSD, that difference may just mean the world.
For more tips on how to keep up the morale of your remote team members, check out our article here.
For more information about how you can start your remote team, get in touch with DistantJob here.