Help-seeking in transit workers exposed to acute psychological trauma: A qualitative analysis
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BACKGROUND: Traumatic events often occur in workplace settings and can lead to stress reactions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). One such workplace is the transportation industry, where employees are often exposed to trauma. However, extant research shows that a considerable proportion of people with PTSD do not seek specialty mental health treatment. OBJECTIVE: In this qualitative study, we sought to better understand the experience of a traumatic event at work and the barriers and motivating factors for seeking mental health treatment. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-nine Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) employees participated in a one-on-one interview, 18 soon after the traumatic event and 11 after entering a specialized treatment program. METHODS: Semi-structured, one-on-one interviews were conducting using qualitative description and analyzed using content analysis. RESULTS: Participants described emotional responses after the trauma such as guilt, anger, disbelief as particularly difficult, and explained that barriers to seeking help included the overwhelming amount and timing of paperwork related to the incident as well as negative interactions with management. Motivating factors included family and peer support, as well as financial and emotional issues which persuaded some to seek help. CONCLUSIONS: Seeking treatment is a multifactorial process. Implications and recommendations for the organization are discussed.