Developed by Dr. Steven Silver, sanctuary trauma "occurs when an individual who suffered a severe stressor next encounters what was expected to be a supportive and protective environment' and discovers only more trauma." Usually, this type of trauma is referenced when discussing child abuse or veterans returning home and feeling abanded by their government. Could this form of trauma be happening in emergency services as well? Do we return to a supportive and protective environment after that mind-bending call?
According to a Sullivan study from the McGill University, perceived injustice predicts PTSD. Meaning the more a person feels they were wronged, the more severe their mental injury will be. This study was targetted to car accident victims, but can it be applied to first responders who feel they are just meat in a seat? Dr. Jonathan Douglas, a psychologist, focussing on trauma-related disorders, thinks so. The actions of peers and supervisors can have a profound effect on either recovery or impairment if this study is considered.
So what can old school supervisors, managers and officers do to navigate this new complex work environment of, I'm quoting ..."snowflakes and buttercups"? If they choose to, how can they take advantage of the possible benefits of managing the mental welfare or their workers? Just being open, listening and showing compassion toward their employees is an excellent place to start.