Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can take a terrible toll, affecting all aspects of daily lives, from finding the courage to get out of bed and face the world, to the pent-up rage and anger that comes from living with traumatic events of the past.
Speaking to an employer about PTSD can therefore be intimidating, but doing so can be a positive experience, if done correctly.
Being open and honest can be the best course of action
Many people who haven't been affected by PTSD, or who have not known anyone who has, do not necessarily understand the impact it can have. It's therefore important that any conversation with an employer starts by being open and honest about your diagnosis and what it means for any working relationship.
You may find that providing some background on the condition helps to break down barriers in understanding, while eliminating confusion that could lead to difficulties in the future. As a best practice, you want to ensure you are educated on PTSD and how it affects you by being prepared to talk about your specific triggers in order to answer any questions an employer may have. Every case of PTSD is unique, so be confident in talking about how PTSD affects YOU.
Talking to others about PTSD is not easy, but most employers will be welcoming of the fact that you have come to them in confidence about this issue. Many will want to know how they can help, and this can be a great relief for those who have faced difficulties in dealing with their PTSD in the workplace.
How to prepare for a potentially difficult conversation
However, you must also be prepared for the fact that some employers will not be as understanding or supportive. In these cases, it is important to remain calm and to explain how your symptoms could affect your work, as well as accommodations you may need to be successful.
When talking through accommodations, make sure you’re clear about what you need. Think through these questions as you prepare for the conversation:
1. Do you need a flexible schedule to attend counseling sessions?
2. Do you need a space by your desk for your service dog?
3. Do you need your desk located in a quiet area or with your back to the wall?
By being open and realistic about the pressures and constraints of living with PTSD, this helps to create an authentic dialogue that can benefit both parties.
Remember, the ball's in your court
Finally, one important aspect of disclosure for anyone with PTSD is to remember that you are the one in full control of the process - you have the final word on how much to say, or not to say.
Ultimately, speaking to your employer about PTSD can be a daunting prospect; however, by doing so, you're helping to break down the stigma that surrounds PTSD and ensuring any new working relationship is able to get off on the best possible footing.
GettingHired works with companies around the country who are dedicated to hiring and supporting individuals and veterans with disabilities. Visit our website for more resources on how to talk to potential employers about PTSD and living with a disability.