Unfortunately, there is a bit of skepticism in the workplace about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as demonstrated by this question received in a recent class taught by FELTG Instructor Shana Palmieri, LCSW.
PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder that changes the body’s reaction to stress, affecting stress hormones and specific parts of the brain. It’s much more than an individual’s reaction to fireworks and other loud noises. “The interactions that trigger PTSD symptoms can be subtle and difficult to understand for individuals who have not had the experience themselves,” Shana explained.
Some potential manifestations could be avoidance of trauma-related stimuli, exaggerated self-blame, social isolation, difficulty connecting with others, irritability, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
A quick recap of the reasonable accommodation process: The employee making the accommodation request must show that he is a qualified individual with a disability, and needs an accommodation in order to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. From there, the agency is required to accommodate the employee unless doing so would cause an undue hardship, or no accommodation is available.
Just because the employee’s symptoms don’t mirror your perceptions of PTSD doesn’t mean they’re not real. Follow your agency’s reasonable accommodation protocol and engage in the interactive process with the employee. The specific reasonable accommodation will depend on the employee’s symptoms, but could include a modified work schedule, telework, increased privacy in the workplace, apps for anxiety and stress, or a white noise machine, just to name a few.
For more detailed information on PTSD and other employee mental health challenges, join Shana on December 9 from 1-3 pm ET as she teaches Managing Employee Mental Health Challenges During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic. See below for more details on the program.
Have a question? Ask FELTG.
The information presented here is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Contacting FELTG in any way/format does not create the existence of an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, you should contact an attorney.