June is National PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) Awareness Month, but it started as just one day. In 2010, the US Senate declared June 27 to be National PTSD Awareness Day. At that time, many support groups and organizations already recognized the necessity for a larger effort to aid people in seeking help. The day became a full month in 2014, via designation by the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The goal of this effort is to raise overall awareness of PTSD, reduce the stigma around treatment, provide support for survivors, and encourage more people to pursue treatment.
What is PTSD?
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through an event that caused or threatened serious harm or death. Results of this disorder can result in a wide range of symptoms and recovery times can vary greatly among those affected. Some people may suffer for weeks while others may take years to effectively recover. Common knowledge of this disorder may be relatively recent, but PTSD is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the first mention of it dates to 50 B.C.!
Why raise awareness?
Approximately 8 million people are currently living with PTSD, in the United States alone. Most people suffering don’t get the help they need even though treatments are available and effective. Efforts to raise awareness don’t just result in more people getting the help they need either. Effective treatment leads to lives saved, in some cases, and better quality of life for all affected.
How can you help?
The first way to help is to know the signs that can indicate PTSD and what to do when you see them. Beyond that, proactively spreading the word is the best way to build awareness. Talking about a thing, before it’s a problem, makes people more able to recognize symptoms when they experience them AND reduces the stigma around pursuing treatment. The National Center for PTSD created a daily activity calendar for the month that makes such advocacy easy for all!
Don’t forget self-awareness!
Awareness isn’t just for others. Whether you are a military veteran or a life-long civilian, it’s possible that a previous traumatic event could be the cause of current mental health issues. Only a trained provider can diagnose and treat PTSD but you can take an easy, 5 question self-assessment to help you decide if it’s something you should be talking about with your doctor or mental health provider. Remember, knowledge is power and answers to your questions are out there. You have the power to help people with PTSD, even if one of those people is yourself!