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In harm’s way

APSU strides to address disabilities equally, but a bigger emphasis should be placed on handling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) cases.

PTSD is categorized as an anxiety disorder following a traumatic event.

PTSD is a debilitating mental condition that requires compensation and understanding.

Students diagnosed with PTSD may find themselves in the uncomfortable situation of explaining symptoms manifested as behaviors to their professors.

This could be resolved if APSU invested more time and energy into educating its community on PTSD.

While APSU has many services for those with physical impairments, along with free general counseling for students, increasing awareness and education for such a unique disorder as PTSD will allow students with this condition to feel more welcome on campus.

Professors should be as aware of how to compensate for a trauma victim as they should be for a student in a wheelchair.

Students with PTSD may often need things repeated or appear to be distracted. It is difficult for people with PTSD to sit still in class, since PTSD often makes them fear “the calm before the storm” and therefore staying still and quiet can be hard.

Sometimes the simple act of getting up in the morning can be too much to handle.

Being sleepy and tardy to class is common among those with PTSD because it may become hard to sleep at night.

Professors should understand that their absentee policy might need to be adjusted for these students, as sometimes they are too tired or even too nervous to come to class.

Students diagnosed with PTSD could feel too scared to go to class, afraid of having a panic attack in the middle of class when feeling overwhelmed.

Going into a hard class can feel like torture for someone who cannot deal with a fast-paced class, subjects going over their head or triggering content.

“Triggering” refers to a subject that could possibly bring flashbacks or negative emotions for a person, which may lead to someone not being able to write a specific paper or debate a topic.

In addition to professors, APSU as a campus can provide more resources specifically geared toward trauma victims rather than general anxiety.

Since PTSD is usually caused by an issue bigger than genetics, such as childhood abuse or surviving an accident, a special support group or network would be a valuable resource.

APSU has a large military student population, and while PTSD can be caused by other factors, many soldiers become victims of trauma.

Jodi McCullah, executive director of Students And Families Embraced (SAFE) spoke about seeing these cases on APSU’s campus.

“[A] fairly large number of students were struggling in school because of military-related issues,” McCullah said. “Some students were struggling because their family members were deployed into war zones. We found a need for more counseling resources.”

Among veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars, the prevalence of PTSD is currently at 12.5 percent, an increase over the 8 percent in the general population according to PTSD United.

With so many military and veteran students on campus, APSU can help them feel safe and included with PTSD-specific organizations and resources.

However, veterans are not the only ones who develop PTSD.

People who experience a traumatic event such as a death in the family, a serious accident or abuse run the risk of their symptoms evolving into PTSD.

“It’s really important to realize that many folks, both military and civilians, live every day with PTSD and few people around them would know it because they function just fine,” McCullah said.

Of those diagnosed with PTSD, only half will seek professional help, according to RAND (Research and Development) Corporation, a global policy think tank.

Friends of students with PTSD can show their support by offering a listening ear or encouraging their friends to consider treatment.

With proper compensation for all types of students, APSU can create an environment where all students feel safe and welcome, and therefore foster success

About Shelby Watson

Shelby Watson is a Studio Art major at APSU. She has been working for The All State since 2014 and won 3rd Best Photographer In The South at the 2016 Southeastern Journalism Conference. Shelby spends her time playing video games, watching movies and reading your comments on her Sonic the Hedgehog article.

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