How Does PTSD Affect Employability?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become increasingly important to the government and military after it was found that an estimated 20-30% of all veterans are expected to have PTSD or PTSD like symptoms.

A Cornell University poll of human resources professionals found that 61% of employers thought that making accommodations for a person with PTSD required more effort for the employer. 52% reported that they didn’t know if accommodations would be costly, and only 6% had reported ever accommodating a worker with PTSD.  Without accommodations or treatment, maintaining a job becomes difficult for a person that is suffering from PTSD.

PTSD symptoms can result in

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty learning new tasks  
  • Startled at loud noises
  • Easily irritated

An employment study published in Mental Health Services Research showed that veterans with PTSD are 50% more likely to be unemployed. The chances of unemployment are more pronounced for those that had more severe cases of PTSD. The study suggests that even a modest reduction in PTSD symptoms through treatment could help employment prospects for war time veterans.

A separate study of post war veterans revealed that the rate of occurrence of PTSD is the highest 3 years after the traumatic event. On average, veterans turn over a job every year during the this time period. It is possible that this 3 year period of frequent job turnover is due to the increased instance of PTSD within that same period.

PTSD in the Long-Term

Seemingly unaffected veteran employees can start to have PTSD symptoms many years after their deployment. After the first 3 years of severe symptoms, the rate of PTSD drops. However, PTSD symptoms rise again after approximately 17 years. Therefore, veterans who believe their PTSD symptoms have disappeared may experience their return many years down the line. The onset of such symptoms can be sudden and can result in major changes in work performance. This subsequent rise suggests that there can be a delayed onset of symptoms. PTSD’s long-term effects are concerning because they affect job stability when patients with PTSD are closer to retirement or hold a position with greater responsibility.

The most compelling argument for the link between PTSD and the unemployment crisis for veterans comes directly from statistics published by the Department of Labor and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

The Department of Veteran’s Affairs reported that the second most common diagnoses given in VA hospitals for the quarter were mental health related diagnoses. Furthermore, four out of the top five states in health care utilization and PTSD diagnosis are also among the states with the highest unemployment rates for veterans. These states include Georgia, Florida, Texas, and California.

These employment outcomes are the result of PTSD symptoms. PTSD is a treatable disorder and these unemployment outcomes are avoidable. However, in order to help veterans have a better quality of life, companies must be open to veterans’ symptoms, recognize these issues, and be willing to seek and adhere to treatment. Call the Institute for Advanced Medical Research today at 770-817-9200 to learn more.