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How to honor PTSD Awareness Month at your mental health practice

Around 6% of people in the US will experience PTSD in their lifetime, and about 5% of adults experience PTSD each year.

PTSD awareness month

At a Glance

  • June is PTSD Awareness Month, which offers mental health practices a chance to showcase their commitment to trauma care and awareness.
  • Mental health practices can use PTSD Awareness Month to educate, raise awareness, and support those affected.
  • Partner with local organizations to amplify the impact of your PTSD awareness efforts.

June is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and it presents an opportunity for mental health practices to demonstrate their commitment to trauma awareness and care. 

Having the medical expertise and resources to effectively address PTSD means that mental health practices are uniquely positioned to spearhead meaningful initiatives. They can effectively raise awareness, educate staff and the public, and increase support for people affected by PTSD.

How do you celebrate PTSD Awareness Day?

In 2010, a North Dakota senator introduced a resolution to establish June 27 as National PTSD Awareness Day in memory of a National Guard member who died by suicide after returning from Iraq and struggling with PTSD.

Mental health practices are uniquely positioned to spearhead meaningful initiatives. ”

On this day, your mental health practice can host an educational event, offer free PTSD screenings, and distribute materials to raise awareness. Engaging with the community through social media and partnering with local organizations can also make a significant impact.

What is PTSD Awareness Month?

PTSD Awareness Month originated as an extension of PTSD Awareness Day.

The US Senate designated the entire month of June as PTSD Awareness Month in 2014. The goal was to provide a broader platform to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and encourage those affected to seek help. Since then, organizations like the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for PTSD have led efforts to spread information and aid those living with PTSD throughout June.

How common is PTSD?

Around 6% of people in the US will experience PTSD in their lifetime. About 5% of adults experience PTSD each year. In 2020, roughly 13 million Americans had PTSD. Women are more likely to develop the condition than men, with 8% of women and 4% of men experiencing PTSD at some point. Among non-binary and trans individuals, the estimated number is from 17.8% to as high as 42%. This is partly due to differences in the types of trauma that different genders experience. While many people with PTSD recover after treatment, these statistics highlight the importance of awareness and support.

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How to honor PTSD Awareness Month at your mental health practice

Here are some impactful actions your mental health practice can take to honor PTSD Awareness Month.

  • Increase access to mental healthcare: Encourage early PTSD detection by offering free or discounted PTSD screenings at your practice. You can do this on June 27, which is PTSD Screening Day, using the Primary Care PTSD Screen for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5). You can also offer a free PTSD self-screen test on your practice’s website or patient portal. To go further, provide (limited) free counseling sessions or offer sliding-scale fees to individuals affected by PTSD, particularly veterans, first responders, and abuse survivors. These initiatives can help reduce barriers to accessing care and encourage more people to seek treatment. 
  • Raise awareness: Display and distribute educational materials about PTSD in your practice waiting room. The National Center for PTSD, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or other mental health organizations offer brochures. If your mental health practice has an electronic bulletin board, use it to display the National Center for PTSD’s digital sign. You can also publish PTSD-focused content on your practice blog. If you’re short on resources to write from scratch, the National Center for PTSD has a free drop-in blog post.  
  • Educate practice staff about PTSD: Deepen your team’s understanding of PTSD by organizing internal workshops with guest speakers, such as trauma specialists or veteran advocates. You can also enroll your medical staff in continuing education courses. Many are free and offer CE/CME credits.
  • Collaborate with local organizations: Partnering with local organizations is a powerful way for your practice to amplify its impact during PTSD Awareness Month. Work with veteran groups, first responder organizations, and mental health charities to co-host events like workshops, webinars, and community discussions that raise awareness and educate the public about PTSD. Jointly organizing support group sessions allows those affected to share their experiences and build connections with trained medical professionals present. Sponsoring charity runs or fundraising events can also help raise funds for PTSD-related causes. Such collaborations expand your practice’s reach and foster a supportive network that reduces stigma and promotes healing.

For more ideas for what to do during PTSD Awareness Month, the National Center for PTSD has a month-long calendar for healthcare providers. It’s full of ideas and activities your practice can engage in daily.

What is the symbol for PTSD Awareness Month?

The symbol for PTSD Awareness Month is a teal ribbon. It’s used to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and show support for those affected by PTSD. In June, people wear teal ribbons or share teal-themed graphics to promote understanding and encourage those struggling to seek help.

What not to say to someone with PTSD

When speaking to someone with PTSD, it’s essential to be compassionate and supportive. Here are 6 things to avoid saying:

  1. “Just move on.” This dismissive statement can invalidate their experiences or make them feel misunderstood, particularly coming from a mental health professional. 
  2. “It could have been worse.” Comparing a patient’s trauma to others’ experiences minimizes their pain and may discourage them from sharing their feelings. Each individual’s trauma is unique and should be validated.
  3. “You seem to be making progress. Why aren’t you feeling better yet?” Healing from trauma takes time and varies greatly among individuals. This comment can increase feelings of guilt, shame, or pressure for not recovering quickly enough, hindering their progress.
  4. “We should focus on moving forward instead of dwelling on past events.” Patients with PTSD often need to discuss their traumatic experiences multiple times as part of their healing journey. Encourage them to share as many times as they need to during your appointments.
  5. “Why didn’t you disclose this sooner?” Patients may not share their trauma due to fear, shame, or overwhelming emotions. Instead, create a supportive, non-judgemental environment where they can open up at their own pace.
  6. “You’ll have to live with this forever.” PTSD is treatable. While a minority of patients do experience symptoms for years, many cases subside within 6 months and a majority subside within 2 years.

Honoring PTSD Awareness Month at your mental health practice is an invaluable opportunity to support those affected by trauma, educate your community, and advocate for mental health. By increasing access to care, raising awareness, educating your staff, and collaborating with local organizations, your practice can make a significant impact.

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Tolu Ajiboye

Tolu Ajiboye is a writer and marketing consultant with over 7 years of experience helping biopharma and healthcare companies with marketing communications strategy and execution. She’s worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies, and has had her work appear in publications like NBC News and The Guardian UK. She also has a law degree.

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