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Work-related trauma takes toll on health

Trauma, either witnessed or experienced second-hand by first responders, health care professionals, and victim advocates, can have a lasting negative effect, but there are ways to protect oneself and become more resilient, according to Kenneth R. Yeager, director of the STAR (Stress, Trauma and Resilience) Program at The Ohio State University.

Yeager, who will speak at the plenary session during the Two Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance, provides services at the STAR Trauma Recovery Center, which offers specialized services to victims of crime and their families through a grant awarded by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The program helps adult survivors of trauma, violence, and loss through trauma-informed care, advocacy, and outreach. The STAR clinic also provides support services for health care professionals and first responders suffering from vicarious, or second-hand, trauma and burnout.

“The effects are real, they are potentially permanent, and they are cumulative,” he said. “They can emerge at any time in your career. You can be going along and suddenly a single interaction, thought, a moment will push you a little over the edge.”

During a speech at the Ohio Attorney General’s Ideas for Advocacy event, Yeager said, trauma can lead to depression, anxiety, somatization, substance abuse, and domestic conflict, but there are ways to protect yourself from the fallout.

10 ways to build resilience

  1. Look for three good things to counter the negative each day.
  2. View difficulty as a challenge. See failure as an opportunity to learn.
  3. Don’t let setbacks or bad events affect unrelated areas of your life.
  4. Remember what brought you into this line of work.
  5. Always be planning your next vacation.
  6. Have at least one good friend.
  7. Keep learning and maintain a healthy curiosity.
  8. Figure out where you are spending your energy and don’t overextend.
  9. Strive for eight hours of sleep a night. (When you reach the deep sleep phase, neurotoxins leave your brain.)
  10. Take care of the people at work. Cultivate those relationships.