Understanding PTSD as a Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker

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Outreach worker training

If you decide to pursue a career as a mental health and addictions worker, you will be responsible for helping patients in a variety of settings, such as:

  • group homes
  • drop-in centers
  • community outreach programs
  • women’s shelters

Once you begin your career, you will likely come across patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is a condition that’s generally brought on by a traumatic event or life experience.

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects approximately 8 per cent of the general population and 10 per cent of war veterans. Experts know that this mental health condition is quite troubling, since it can lead to depression, substance abuse, and feelings of isolation.

Read on to find out how mental health and addictions workers help patients with PTSD heal and lead happy and rewarding lives.

What is PTSD?

It’s quite common for people to experience at least one traumatic event during their lives. In a distressing situation, a person might experience feelings of anxiety and stress, or complete numbness. In most cases, these feelings go away over time. However, if they persist for several months or years, this can be a clear indication that the individual may have developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some events that can cause PTSD include:

  • military combat
  • rape
  • violent crime
  • car accident
  • terrorist attack
  • sexual abuse
  • genocide
  • natural disaster

While any of these events – as well as many others – can cause PTSD, the risk of developing the disorder increases if the event is man-made. The severity of an event and how long it lasts are other factors that can increase the risk.

What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

As a community mental health worker, part of your job will involve monitoring patients and observing any new developments, so you can adapt treatments and respond to their needs. Outreach worker training will teach you how to identify symptoms of PTSD, such as:

  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • insomnia and/ or intense, vivid nightmares
  • upsetting memories or flashbacks of the event
  • avoiding “triggers” that remind the person of the event
  • feeling numb or detached
  • hypervigilance

How Mental Health and Addictions Workers Help Patients with PTSD

During your mental health worker program, you will learn about the various treatment options for patients suffering from PTSD. Additionally, you will be taught how to create an environment where vulnerable patients feel safe and secure.

Mental health and addictions workers can refer patients to therapists who will help them process their feelings. They can also encourage patients to seek medical help, should they develop depression or other symptoms that might require medical treatment.

Are you interested in learning more by enrolling in mental health and addictions worker courses? Visit Stenberg College for more information or to speak with an advisor.

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