TOUGHNESS CULTURE RISKS VICARIOUS TRAUMA

Workers in environments that promote an image of toughness may face increased risks of vicarious trauma, according to Dr. Cathy Kezelman, president of the Blue Knot Foundation.

Vicarious trauma occurs when individuals absorb trauma indirectly, such as through hearing traumatic stories or dealing with disturbing materials. This can lead to symptoms similar to PTSD.

High-risk occupations include those with frequent exposure to trauma, like paramedics and police officers.

Symptoms of vicarious trauma can mimic burnout and may include anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

Kezelman emphasises the importance of creating trauma-informed workplaces that support workers and encourage open dialogue about trauma. However, workers often hesitate to disclose their experiences due to societal pressures to appear strong.

Trauma-informed workplaces are those that prioritise empathy, compassion, and understanding, allowing individuals to share their experiences without fear of judgment.

Kezelman suggests key measures for employers to address vicarious trauma risks, including providing education on trauma recognition, implementing support processes, and monitoring workers' exposure.

Source: OHS Alert, 17 April

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