Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that occurs for some individuals following a traumatic event. It first came to prominence following World War One. In this section you will find guidelines on reporting on PTSD, myths and facts, as well as a definition about the condition.

Advice for reporting on PTSD

Follow through with helplines

Audiences can react to your content in unpredictable, and sometimes harmful ways. Journalists and producers are advised to provide details of helplines alongside any potentially harmful or triggering content. For audiences needing help dealing with issues around PTSD you can direct them to:

The Samaritans
116 123 (available 24/7)

Avoid stigmatising language.

Words like ‘nutter’, ‘crazy’, or ‘madman’ to describe someone with PTSD can be extremely upsetting to those impacted by the condition and add to the stigmas surrounding mental health. This can, in turn, prevent or discourage people seeking support when they need it.

Engage with Experts.

Where possible, include comments from mental health care professionals, and individuals living with PTSD, in order to provide accurate and non-sensational information.

Trigger Warnings

Think about providing warnings at the beginning of articles or programmes, as reading reports of PTSD can be triggering for people living with it.

Is it relevant?

Consider if mentioning a diagnosis of PTSD is relevant to the story. Many people are not comfortable with diagnoses being disclosed, and reporting a case of PTSD when it isn’t relevant can risk linking the condition to behaviours such as violence.

Balance

1000s of people living in Ireland manage their PTSD well, and many go on to have full recoveries. Include positive stories about people living successfully with PTSD.

Use of violent imagery.

Think about whether images included in the article are necessary, as they may be triggering or helping to spread misconceptions about PTSD.

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PTSD Quick Reference Guide

PTSD

PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a mental health condition which is caused by frightening or distressing events such as serious accidents, abuse, assault, military combat, or violent death. It can occur at any age, including childhood. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of people or situations, irritability or anger, depression, and guilt.

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Audiences can react to your content in unpredictable, and sometimes harmful ways. Journalists and producers are advised to provide details of helplines alongside any potentially harmful or triggering content. For audiences needing help dealing with issues around Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder you can direct them to:
The Samaritans
116 123
(available 24/7)

The Samaritans
116 123
(available 24/7)

About Headline

Headline is Ireland’s national programme for responsible reporting, and representation of mental illness and suicide. Our objective is to work as collaboratively as possible with Irish media professionals across print, broadcast, and online platforms to reduce the effects of suicide contagion, and the stigma attached to mental ill health.

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