Anticipatory Vigilance: Posttraumatic Stress Injury (PTSI)
Posttraumatic Stress Injury (PTSI)
When a person does not have a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), but does have symptoms of a mental health injury (anxiety, depression, etc.) it is called a Posttraumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). For PSP, PTSI can happen at any time, but is more common later in a career due to a buildup of exposures over time. PSP family members can be heavily impacted by their own traumatic exposures as well as those of their PSP member.
Stigma around Posttraumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) in PSP sectors
Some PSP might find it hard or hesitate to seek help for mental health concerns. This can be because of the ongoing stigma around mental illness, the structure of PSP organizations, and the communities in which they live. Stigma describes the negative attitudes and perceptions around mental illness. In the Global North, much work is being done to dispel the myth that mental illness is a weakness.
Because of their roles, PSP are often presumed to be strong and courageous in all that they do. There might be a feeling that they are letting the team and community down if PSP seek mental health support. Many PSP have reported feeling this expectation of courage and strength, and so fear the labels that might come with seeking support. PSP also fear that this could have an impact on their jobs.
When stigma prevents PSP from seeking out care, it increases the strain placed on other family members. They may have to cope with behavioural changes in the PSP and an increase in household responsibilities because the PSP is unable or unwilling to contribute. The stigma can also lead to isolation for both the PSP and family members. PSP might be afraid that others will not accept or trust them or will think less of them. They may avoid going out and, in turn, reduce chances for their families to socialize with extended family and friends.
Effects of PTSI on PSP Families
Was this information helpful?
References for this page (click to expand)
Carleton, R. N., Afifi, T. O., Turner, S., Taillieu, T., Duranceau, S., LeBouthillier, D. M., Sareen, J., Ricciardelli, R., MacPhee, R. S., Groll, D., Hozempa, K., Brunet, A., Weekes, J. R., Griffiths, C. T., Abrams, K. J., Jones, N. A., Beshai, S., Cramm, H. A., Dobson, K. S., Hatcher, S., … Asmundson, G. J. G. (2018). Mental disorder symptoms among public safety personnel in Canada. Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie, 63(1), 54–64. https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743717723825
Corrigan, P. W., Druss, B. G., & Perlick, D. A. (2014). The impact of mental illness stigma on seeking and participating in mental health care. Psychological Science in the Public Interest : A Journal of the American Psychological Society, 15(2), 37–70. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100614531398
Jones, S., Agud, K. & McSweeney, J. (2019). Barriers and facilitators to seeking mental health care among first responders: “Removing the Darkness”. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association 26(1):43-54. https://doi.org/10.1177/1078390319871997
Lewis-Schroeder, N. F., Kieran, K., Murphy, B. L., Wolff, J. D., Robinson, M. A. & Kaufman, M. L. (2018). Conceptualization, assessment, and treatment of traumatic stress in first responders: A review of critical issues. Harvard review of psychiatry, 26(4), 216–227. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000176
McKeon, G., Wells, R., Steel, Z., Moseley, V. & Rosenbaum, S. (2020). Self-reported physical and mental health of informal caregivers of emergency service workers. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 26(6), 507-518. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325024.2020.1845020
O’Toole, M., Mulhall, C., & Eppich, W. (2022). Breaking down barriers to help-seeking: preparing first responders’ families for psychological first aid. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 13(1), 2065430-2065430. https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2022.2065430
Porter, K. L., & Henriksen, R. C. (2016). The phenomenological experience of first responder spouses. The Family Journal (Alexandria, Va.), 24(1), 44-51. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480715615651
Public Safety Canada. (2022). Supporting Canada’s Public Safety Personnel: An Action Plan on Post-traumatic Stress Injuries. Retrieved August 29, 2022 from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/2019-ctn-pln-ptsi/index-en.aspx
Shepherd-Banigan, M., Shapiro, B., McDuffie, J. R., Brancu, M., Sperber, N. R., Van Houtven, C. H., Kosinski, A. S., Mehta, N. N., Nagi, A. & Williams, J. W. (2018). Interventions that support or involve caregivers or families of patients with traumatic injury: A systematic review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(7):1177-1186. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4417-7
Thomson, J. L. (2021). PTSD perceptions in the U.S. military members and their families: A qualitative study. SAGE Open, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440211006393
Wyse, J. J., Ono, S. S., Kabat, M. & True, G. (2020). Supporting family caregivers of Veterans: Participant perceptions of a federally-mandated caregiver support program. Healthcare (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 8(3), 100441. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hjdsi.2020.100441