Trauma in the Workplace & Education
Trauma is the severe distress that occurs when someone is in real or perceived danger. It has a lasting effect on that person’s wellbeing and functioning and makes it hard to feel safe even when that danger has passed. Sexual abuse, harassment and bullying are recognised as major causes of trauma which can have devastating effects on the individual.
In workplace and educational settings, trauma from experiences of bullying, sexual abuse, harassment and assault can affect an individual’s mental health, social relationships, work or studies, and even their physical health.
People respond to trauma in many different ways, these are just a few of the behaviours you might see:
- Struggling to maintain performance at work, or in school
- Withdrawing from social activities
- Poor attendance
- Missing deadlines
- Drug or alcohol use
- Poor concentration
- Risk-taking behaviour
- Not wanting to go home
- Fear or anxiety
- Lack of confidence
- Physical reactions such as headaches, fatigue, nausea or stomach pain.
You may have heard of the phrase trauma-informed, but what exactly does it mean?
When we refer to an organisation, or a person being trauma-informed, we are referring to three core elements:
- Being aware of the prevalence of trauma and the impact it can have on someone’s health and behaviour.
- You can recognise trauma responses and to support a person sensitively and without causing re-traumatisation.
- You are aware of the potential impact on those working with trauma, and able to offer them appropriate support.
Across the UK, workplaces and educational settings can experience high levels of bullying, sexual harassment, abuse or assault. How these organisations manage these issues can impact not only the individual affected, but the community and organisation as a whole.
When a survivor discloses what has happened to them, the way this is handled can significantly affect how they go on to recover from that trauma. Survivors who feel listened to, believed and supported and who are actively involved in any subsequent processes tend to find it easier to recover from their trauma and are less likely to suffer long-term symptoms, re-traumatisation or re-victimisation.
Regardless of whether an incident of abuse, harassment or bullying occurred within the organisation, or elsewhere, organisations such an schools, universities and places of work have moral responsibility to support the welfare of students and employees. This is why it is so important for these settings to have appropriate frameworks in place to ensure they are able to appropriately respond to and support anyone affected by these issues.
The Survivors Trust have specifically developed Trauma-Informed accreditation to help workplace and educational settings provide appropriate support and trauma-informed responses to disclosures of sexual violence and abuse.