Anyone who has experienced profound trauma may struggle with feelings of unease, agitation, and hyperarousal. They may feel fidgety, jumpy, or on edge, especially in unfamiliar or crowded environments. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience these symptoms regularly.

Creating safe spaces for someone with this condition can help them to feel more relaxed in addition to treatment for PTSD.

What Is a Safe Space?

A safe space can be any physical location where a person feels comfortable and at ease. It is also a place where people feel free to be themselves without fear of judgment. Most safe spaces are intentionally designed to provide these benefits rather than having them intrinsically. Therefore, technically, any place can be a safe space.

How Does Someone Experience Trauma at Work?

The impact of trauma on an employee’s well-being and productivity can originate from their personal lives and the workplace.

They include:

  • Being demeaned, bullied, or yelled at in front of other employees
  • Fearing they could lose their job if they open up about their work pressure
  • Being threatened to lose their job if they don’t take on duties outside of their own
  • Experience intimidation or be threatened by other employees
  • Having been involved in a severe accident or witnessing the death of a colleague
  • Coming in contact with hazardous materials
  • Experiencing a natural disaster at work, such as a tornado or fire

How to Know if Your Employee Is Experiencing Trauma

Victims of traumatic experiences may not feel comfortable opening up about their situations. They may try hard to move past it and avoid any reminders of the actual traumatic event.

It’s easier to spot signs of trauma outside of the workplace, such as anxiety, frequent nightmares, or a lack of social interaction. However, these signs can be easily masked and buried under work-related tasks.

Fortunately, there are other indicators to consider when determining whether your employee has PTSD or another trauma-related disorder.

They include:

  • Taking off more days than usual
  • Difficulty building relationships at work
  • Isolating themselves from others during the lunch break
  • Displaying signs of a panic attack, such as shortness of breath or chest pains
  • Needing to get up and walk out frequently
  • Displaying bouts of aggression or irritability without a known reason
  • Reduced productivity or performance

How to Create a Safe Space

Here are a few steps to make your workplace more inclusive to trauma survivors.

Ensure the Work Environment Is Safe

People with PTSD are always on guard for the next emergency, which makes them feel irritated, on edge, and easily startled. These symptoms often result from a traumatic situation they could not escape. To help relieve these feelings, ensuring their work environment is physically safe is important.

This includes:

  • Mapping out all emergency exits
  • Scheduling regular emergency drills
  • Moving obvious hazards, including exposed cords or sharp objects from visible view
  • Placing first aid kits in highly visible areas
  • Providing a list of rules and regulations about workplace hazards, accidents, and concerns

Young people during group therapy for ptsd

Encourage Open Communication

Employees with post-traumatic stress disorder may struggle to express their emotions. They may misinterpret the feelings and thoughts of others and tend to isolate themselves due to the fear of exacerbating a situation. To help them overcome these challenges, consider implementing an open-door policy. This will encourage them to speak up about uncomfortable subjects, such as workplace bullying, lack of support, or mental health concerns.

Additional benefits that come from an open-communication policy include:

  • Eliminating stigma around workplace trauma
  • Boosting overall productivity
  • Improving workplace dynamics and company culture
  • Reducing costs associated with employee sick days
  • Increasing team collaboration

Exercise Empathy and Compassion

Remember to practice empathy and compassion to create a healthy, safe environment for employees with PTSD. Small gestures like making eye contact and nodding while they speak can make them feel respected and understood.

Being compassionate means going out of your way to show someone you care. One way to do this is by offering them a day off or providing mental wellness resources.

Promote a Culture of Wellness

There are multiple ways to encourage wellness in the workplace. Some companies offer health-related employee perks, such as gym memberships or discounts for renting bikes for transportation; others offer vouchers for health checkups.

If you’re looking for a few creative ways to encourage a culture of wellness, check out the following ideas:

  • Arrange outings at a park or amusement park
  • Host on-premises health and wellness fairsĀ 
  • Provide healthy snack options for vending machines
  • Create an anonymous drop box for employees to voice their concerns
  • Have a catered lunch from health-centered vendors
  • Provide a calming room for employees to relax should they need it during their breaks
  • Book a motivational speaker to inspire your team

Raising Awareness About PTSD Treatment

The tips mentioned above can offer much-needed support to those who have experienced trauma, but seeking treatment is crucial for proper healing.

At Transformations Mending Fences, we empathize with the challenges faced by individuals dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and we are dedicated to providing assistance. Situated on a 400-acre site in Morriston, Florida, our facility offers a variety of treatment options for those grappling with trauma and addiction. Our residential mental health treatment center boasts comfortable amenities and a range of specialized programs, including equine therapy, yoga, and nutrition counseling.

If you or someone you know is struggling to move forward after a traumatic event, contact us (888) 995-6013 to learn about our PTSD treatment options.

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness. What Safety Means as a Trauma Survivor
  2. MedlinePlus. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  3. National Library of Medicine. An Overview of Empathy