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Secondary Traumatic Stress

When François Mathieu was a civilian therapist working with the military, one of her clients was a nurse case manager who had never seen combat, but was experiencing symptoms identical to those of PTSD.

Witnessing another person experience a traumatic event, or repeatedly listening to others’ detailed traumatic stories can lead to a phenomenon known as secondary traumatic stress (STS). 

While STS was first studied in groups such as paediatric oncology nurses, more recent research has found it affects a much broader range of populations. These include helping professions such as social work and teaching, as well as family members caring for loved ones with life-threatening illnesses, foster parents, and even children.

Not only is STS a mental health issue that can sabotage an individual person’s quality of life, it’s an occupational hazard can arguably further strain our already stretched health care system.

I wrote about why understanding STS could be an important way to safeguard our own well-being and that of our communities in this story for Mind Over Matter magazine: Secondary Traumatic Stress: The Cost of Caring’.

I highly recommend reading the rest of this issue (#18). It’s filled with a wealth of excellent information, as are the back-issues of this excellent publication, which is put out by the Women’s Brain Health Initiative

You can find the current issue, and the archives, here. 

A big thank-you to the interviewees who so kindly shared their time and expertise:

Image courtesy of Pixabay