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PTSD in the Academic setting

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  1. Aaron Ahern, PhD PTSD in the Academic setting

  2. Agenda Misperceptions about PTSD Symptoms of PTSD PTSD in the classroom Resources for working with student veterans

  3. All veterans get PTSD Myth

  4. Overall 10-20% of veterans from current conflicts Rates as high as 58% in heavy combat Torture/POW 50-75% Not all veterans have been involved in combat Reality

  5. Normal Readjustment Most service members experience readjustment issues after deployment to a combat zone. These issues typically resolve in weeks to months with no intervention.

  6. Small decisions seem big: too many choices • Unrealistic readjustment expectations • Difficulty fitting with family/friends • Non-shared experience • “Civilians just don’t get it.” • Struggle with ambiguity • Anger/irritability • Increased substance use Common readjustment challenges

  7. Occupational: • May be more impatient with co-workers/managers • Lack of mission • Decreased desire to collaborate • Educational: • Concentration difficulties functional “growing pains”

  8. People with PTSD are violent Myth

  9. No good evidence linking PTSD with acts of extreme violence • Media Fear Easy story lines Perpetuation of “Crazy” veteran story More nuanced understanding deployment and PTSD can result if difficulties but not acts of extreme violence Reality

  10. PTSD is untreatable Myth

  11. PTSD is very treatable • Effective treatments deal with fear-learning • Prolonged Exposure (PE) • Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) • Effect sizes • .5 for FDA approval of medications • 2 for some evidence based treatments Reality

  12. What is PTSD? • • Criterion A: Traumatic Stressor • Actual or threatened death/serious injury, threat to physical integrity of self/others AND . . . • Responded with intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

  13. PTSD Symptoms

  14. PTSD Symptoms • Intrusive thoughts • Nightmares • Intense distress at trauma cues

  15. Triggers • Diesel fumes • Warm bottled water • Dust storms • Certain terrains • Heat • Debris on side of road • Potholes • Overpasses • Blood • Smell of iron • Kids screaming or laughing • Dark skin • Crowds • Body odor • Sticky substances • Passing cars • Types of cars • Drill weekends • Color red

  16. PTSD Symptoms • Thoughts, feelings, conversations, places • Detachment from others • Sense of foreshortened future

  17. PTSD Symptoms • Sleeping problems • Difficulty Concentrating • Irritability • Hypervigilance/Jumpy

  18. Vignette

  19. PTSD in the classroom • May prefer to sit in the back of classroom • May avoid having back to the door • May appear distracted/trouble with memory • May leave classroom unexpectedly • May be irritable in class discussions • May miss class • May appear sleepy in class

  20. VITAL Program • Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership • Pilot program-20 sites nationally • Liaison between VA and university • Outreach/training • Direct client care • EBT for PTSD • Research Resources for you

  21. Vet Success On Campus • Educational and Occupational Counseling • Benefits Counseling • Employment Assistance Resources for you

  22. Veterans services offices on campus • Handbook • Further training is available • On site at your campus • Tailored to your needs Resources for you

  23. Questions

  24. Aaron Ahern (VITAL): 801-828-6787 Michael Foster (VetSuccess): 801-957-4399 Alan Heal (VetSuccess): 801-587-5703 Contact information