This article was originally distributed by the Washington State Disability Inclusion Network (DIN) Business Resource Group.
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Workplace Accommodations for Employees with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
“Dealing with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at work can be stressful. Navigating flashbacks, panic attacks, and hypervigilance is difficult in any setting, but managing these symptoms in a workplace can feel impossible. When you’re constantly worrying about judgment from your coworkers and peers, it can be hard to focus on the job at hand.
Being in close proximity with coworkers can be stressful for someone with PTSD for a number of reasons. While other workers might not mind cramming into a small break room or meeting room, many people with PTSD don’t like their personal space to be invaded. The average worker might find loud conversations and background chatter in the office to be a minor annoyance, but those types of distractions could be tough for someone with PTSD to handle.”
What accommodation must an employer provide for PTSD?
Once informed of its employee’s PTSD, the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation. All accommodations are based on the circumstances; there is no one-size-fits-all accommodation. To determine the proper accommodation, the employer must engage in the “interactive process” with the employee. (The Kaufman Law Firm)
Questions to ask:
- Has the employee with PTSD been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- What limitations is the employee with PTSD experiencing, and how do these limitations affect the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding PTSD and workplace accommodations?
Here are some accommodations for PTSD symptoms that are typically very easy to implement:
- Flexible scheduling
- Noise canceling devices, i.e. headphones
- Written instructions and requests
- Allowing for phone calls to support persons during the work day
- Modifying break schedules
- Allowing assistance animals
- Modifying workplace lighting
- Repositioning desk, cubicle, or office location
- Disability awareness training for staff
- Organizational tools
- Time management training
- Allowing music or headsets
- Reducing non-essential job functions (i.e. Sunshine Committee, cleaning schedules)
- Regularly scheduled supervision/feedback
- Consistent shift scheduling
- Providing a mentor
Also check Accommodation Ideas Ask Jan: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Job Accommodation Suggestions