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PTSD: Mental Health Matters Conference

The PTSD: Mental Health Matters Conference was part of WorkSafe Month 2019 ‘Safe Bodies, Safe Minds’, which focused on the need for all Tasmanian employers and workers to take positive action to maintain a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Watch a conference session by clicking on the videos below or via our YouTube Channel (external link). Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (external link) to view other WorkSafe videos.

Content warning: These videos address issues relating to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions, and may contain content and imagery that may be confronting or cause distress.


Welcome to the PTSD: Mental Health Matters Conference

Presented by Dr Rob Walters of the WorkCover Tasmania Board


What is PTSD and what it looks like across workplaces

This session describes the key clinical features of PTSD, including the current diagnostic criteria, accompanying clinical presentations, functional outcomes and common comorbid conditions that present with PTSD.

The session presents data on the prevalence and presenting features of PTSD across varying workplace settings, including first-responders (paramedics, fire-fighters, police), defence, primary health care settings, drug and alcohol services, and forensic settings.  Prevalence rates and important issues for consideration will be highlighted in relation to PTSD in these workplace settings and the heterogeneity of PTSD presentations will be highlighted.


Identifying and recognising complex PTSD

It has long been recognised that exposure to prolonged or severe interpersonal trauma, neglect and abuse results in clinical presentations that are not adequately captured by the diagnosis of PTSD. Clinical accounts of more complex traumatic stress presentations date from early work with Holocaust Survivors and was captured by Judith Herman’s 1992 description of complex PTSD.

After 20+ years in the wilderness, complex PTSD has been recognised in ICD-11 due to an emerging body of research validating the construct of complex PTSD. A key feature of this new definition of complex PTSD is the identification of disturbances in self-organisation comprises affective dysregulation, negative self-concept and disturbances in relationships in addition to core PTSD symptoms of reexperiencing, avoidance and sense of threat.


PTSD treatment guidelines and how they apply to workplace settings

The Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder provide guidance to practitioners, clients and service funders on best practice approaches to the prevention, early intervention and treatment of trauma related mental health problems.

This session outlines the key guideline recommendations and implications for workplace settings in which staff have a foreseeable and predictable risk of exposure to trauma.


Overcoming obstacles: My journey with PTSD

This session follows James’s exposure to occupational trauma and high pressure working environments, transitioning through diagnosis, finding solace in fitness: ultra marathons and world records, mental health advocacy, relapse and recovery.


PTSD: Making it real

This interactive session was guided by the real experience of David Holland, an individual with PTSD after suffering a traumatic injury.


Skills based interventions for trauma-related disorders

This session describes a 12-session skills based intervention for military, veteran, police and first responder personnel.

The Group Emotional and Relationship Skills (GEARS) program is a manualised program being delivered in Adelaide through the Road Home, and in Hobart, Brisbane and Townsville through Mates4Mates. The program is also being co-facilitated by peers with lived experience as it emphasises the unique cultural differences faced by these personnel, and how to manage how their training and occupational roles expose them to trauma.


Trauma informed care

This workshop presents a model of trauma informed care that draws upon our understanding of the impacts of trauma on individuals; and provides a practical guide to supporting the recovery of people affected by trauma, for both clinical and non-clinical service providers.


PTSD clinical treatment strategies and practices

This workshop provides an overview of the key evidence-based and recommended treatments for PTSD according to national and international treatment guidelines, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy and eye-movement desensitisation reprocessing. It describes key elements of these treatments, and discusses common features of these treatment strategies. Evidence is presented regarding adjunctive treatments for PTSD which are receiving considerable interest in the field, including mindfulness.


Traumatic horror, injustice, embitterment and shame: The impact of moral injury in the workplace

Fear-based models of PTSD have dominated research and clinical approaches to PTSD since the 1990s. The role of overwhelming horror, injustice, embitterment and shame emerge as alternative pathways to traumatic stress injury and the role of such emotions in addition to exposure to ‘life threat’. This session provides an overview of research in moral injury which aims to expand treatments for PTSD to better address role of these forms of traumatic stress injury.


Future challenges in the field of PTSD: Closing presentation

Presented by Associate Professor Andrea Phelps and Professor Zachary Steel, this closing presentation was an opportunity to identify and consider the future challenges in the field of PTSD.


Updated: 15th November 2019