June is PTSD Awareness Month: What to Know
Anyone who has experienced prolonged or acute exposure to trauma or endured a traumatic event can develop PTSD, and about 6% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their life.
Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC
Updated: June 3, 2023
Table of Contents
For decades, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was viewed as a diagnosis solely reserved for soldiers returning from war. Time and mental health research, though, has shown that PTSD is a more nuanced, complex, and widespread mental health diagnosis than previously thought—prompting the designation of the entire month of June as PTSD Awareness Month.
This month aims to promote dialogue, provide information, and reduce the stigma surrounding PTSD. Keep reading to learn about the history and significance of PTSD Awareness Month, plus symptoms and treatment options for those living with PTSD.
The history of national PTSD awareness month
June was designated national PTSD Awareness Month by the U.S. Senate in 2014, following four years of commemorating national PTSD Awareness Day on June 27th. Some credit the military community with the effort to create PTSD Awareness Day and PTSD Awareness Month in tribute to a service member.
Veterans are not the only people affected by PTSD, but the modern concept of PTSD emerged primarily as a result of experiences and research conducted on war veterans, particularly those who had served in the Vietnam War. During and after the war, it became increasingly apparent that many veterans were experiencing significant psychological distress as a result of their combat experiences. This led to the inclusion of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1980. The inclusion of PTSD in the DSM, which is the standard diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals, provided standardized criteria for identifying and diagnosing the condition.
Now, PTSD Awareness Month is a time dedicated to raising awareness about PTSD and its effect on individuals, families, and communities. Anyone who has experienced prolonged or acute exposure to trauma or endured a traumatic event, like sexual assault, can develop PTSD. In fact, research shows that about 6% of people will experience PTSD at some point in their life. Throughout the month, various events and educational initiatives take place to highlight the importance of understanding and supporting those affected by PTSD. The month is a time to discuss PTSD openly to reduce its stigma and promote accurate information about symptoms and treatment.
Why is PTSD awareness essential?
Since PTSD is an often-misunderstood diagnosis, PTSD awareness is crucial for reducing stigma and promoting support for those affected by the condition. Here are a few reasons why PTSD awareness is essential:
Raising awareness about PTSD helps combat the stigma surrounding the condition. Many individuals with PTSD may feel ashamed or hesitant to seek help due to misconceptions and judgments from others—including that people with PTSD are violent or that only veterans can suffer from PTSD (both of which are myths). PTSD Awareness Month promotes understanding and empathy of the diagnosis, which in turn creates a more supportive culture that encourages people to get the help they need.
PTSD awareness enables early recognition of symptoms. While many people are familiar with common symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks, nightmares, and hypervigilance, there are lesser-known symptoms that are equally distressing. Some of these PTSD symptoms include:
- Emotional numbness
- Loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
- Physical symptoms like headaches and chronic pain
- Cognitive and memory difficulties
Educating the public about these symptoms during PTSD Awareness Month can help people and their loved ones identify potential signs of PTSD and take appropriate action.
Encouraging PTSD treatment
Greater awareness of PTSD promotes the importance of seeking treatment. PTSD is a treatable condition, and effective therapies and interventions are available. However, many people may not be aware of the available resources or may hesitate to seek help. PTSD Awareness Month is a chance to highlight appropriate PTSD treatments and to encourage people to reach out to mental health professionals for support. Some common PTSD treatment options include:
- Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) therapy
- Exposure therapy
Supporting those affected
PTSD Awareness Month offers a chance for people living with the condition and their families to be in a community with others. Understanding the challenges faced by individuals with PTSD helps friends, family members, and communities provide empathy, patience, and support. This can contribute to better overall well-being and quality of life for those affected by PTSD. Additionally, awareness campaigns can focus on promoting resilience, coping skills, and support networks for those affected by PTSD.
Prevention and preparedness
Raising awareness about PTSD helps promote prevention strategies and preparedness in different settings. This includes educating professionals, such as first responders, healthcare providers, and educators, on trauma-informed care and recognizing the potential impact of traumatic experiences.
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Support for PTSD at Charlie Health
If you or someone you know is struggling with PTSD after surviving a traumatic event, like a car crash or sexual assault, you may want to consider seeking help. Charlie Health’s compassionate mental health professionals are here to listen to your story, understand your needs, and match you with an appropriate treatment plan.
Our personalized virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) offers mental health treatment for teens, young adults, and families who are dealing with a variety of mental health struggles, including PTSD and trauma. With the proper mental health support, healing from PTSD and traumatic stress is possible. Get started today.