Educators and area employers learned that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a “veterans’ only” affliction and helping avert a suicide attempt is a skill that can be learned during Nicolet Area Technical College’s second “Hire Up” presentation Friday.
“PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal event,” said Jessica Schiek, Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital mental health therapist. It tells the individual that the world is a scary place and dangerous place and they are ill equipped to deal with it.”
While PTSD is often associated as a problem face by combat veterans, victims of sexual assault or motor vehicle accidents can also suffer the disorder, she said. During the morning long session, Schiek discussed the symptoms, possible warning signs such as hyper-vigilance and other “triggers” of the disorder in detail, noting that there are almost as many people dealing with PTSD as there are those suffering from diabetes.
While there are technologies and tests that help caregivers diagnose and treat illnesses and physical injuries, there are no similar tools to test for or treat PTSD, she said. Mental health researchers and care providers do not know why some people are afflicted with the disorder while are not.
Research is underway to find out what part of the brain are affected by PTSD, she said. County veteran service officers and veteran peer support group leaders added their personal stories to the discussion, frequently citing real-world examples of the symptoms and situations Schiek discussed during her presentation.
“You are noting to be treating PTSD in your workplace,” she said, adding, “you are going to be seeing people every day and will be interacting with them more than anybody else.”
The ability to recognize the warning signs of suicide and feeling comfortable to ask the question and being able to help “is the best way we can support our community, those with PTSD and each other.”
Knowing how to help someone who is considering committing suicide, known as Question, Persuade, Refer, is a skill that can be learned and can be used to help in a crisis much like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is used to help a heart attack victim, Schiek said. Those trained in QPR will be able to ask someone considering suicide questions that may persuade the people to consider alternatives, persuade them not to take their own life and offer hope, she said.
“QPR is not intended to be a form of treatment nor a replacement for professional help,” she explained. “It is an intervention, in a crisis, that help save a life. Hopefully it will provide you with the skills and confidence to intervene in a crisis.”
“Hire Up” is a series of workshops presented by the college to discuss and share issues facing veterans in the classroom and workplace. The first session, held Oct. 2, 2015, covered the advantages of hiring veterans and potential problems and benefits of having veterans face while attending college.