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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a specific anxiety disorder which can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.

There are different types of PTSD and the condition can vary in symptoms and severity depending on the individual. The symptoms may be delayed which is often referred to as delayed-onset PTSD, trauma that occurred at an early age or lasted for a long time may be considered as complex PTSD, and symptoms which develop following a traumatic experience during childbirth may be referred to as Birth Trauma.

How they might feel

Someone living with PTSD may experience a range of feelings, thoughts and experiences such as:

  • Flashbacks.
  • Intrusive thoughts.
  • Nightmares.
  • Intense distress when reminded of the trauma.
  • Alertness or feeling on edge a lot.
  • Excessive anxiety and worrying.

Things you might observe

If you know someone who is living with PTSD you may notice symptoms or behaviour such as:

  • Self-destructive behaviour – for example misusing drugs or alcohol or self harming.
  • Sleep disturbances and issues, such as being tired all the time.
  • Becoming tearful easily and upset.
  • Becoming angry easily or irritable.
  • Physical symptoms such as pain, sweating, nausea or trembling.

In this video, Wellbeing Officer Shania Hudson highlights some common signs and symptoms of PTSD and discusses how staff can support students in managing this complex condition.

If a student discloses that they are suffering from PTSD:

  • Listen and show empathy and understanding.
  • Reassure the student that there is support available to help them.
  • If a student is finding aspects of the course difficult for them because the content is triggering feelings and memories of historical traumatic events, or their PTSD is affecting their day to day life and they are struggling then, discuss a referral to the Wellbeing team with the student.
  • Identify what practical support could be considered to support the student with their course, including consider practical ways to minimise the risk of triggering memories of past trauma where possible.
  • If the student requires referral for specific issues, for example, they are struggling with money worries, have an accommodation issue or their issues are complex then consider the routes in the ‘How to Refer’ section. Seek the student’s consent to refer and explain that they can also self-refer to Student Services.
  • Ask the student if they are registered with a GP. If they are not, the Wellbeing webpages have information on registering with a local GP. If they are, recommend that the student makes an appointment.
  • Make sure the student is aware of how to contact the Wellbeing team and what they should do if at any point they feel they cannot keep themselves safe.
  • Be mindful that students with PTSD might be considered to have a disability and therefore reasonable adjustments, such as exam modifications, might be a legal requirement. If you believe this might be the case then contact the Inclusion team for advice and guidance on 01695 657568 (extension 7568) as to how you should implement them.

If you are unsure of how to support a student or concerned that a student might be at risk, contact the Wellbeing team on 01695 650988 (extension 7265) for advice.

  • Don’t promise confidentiality.
  • Don’t feel you have to provide specialist support to the student around their PTSD, if they are willing to accept support there is support available to them.
  • Don’t judge or dismiss what they are going through.

Refer a student if:

  • You feel you can no longer provide practical advice or support to the student.
  • You feel the student requires more specialist support.
  • You feel the student is at immediate risk to themselves or others.

If you believe the student is an imminent risk to themselves or others, ideally do not let them leave your office or teaching room. Contact the Catalyst Helpdesk on 01695 650800 (extension 7800) and ask them to put you through to the Duty Wellbeing Adviser in Student Services. If it is out of hours, contact Campus Support on extension 01695 584227 (extension 4227).

If a student is an immediate risk to themselves, you do not need the consent of the student to contact Student Services.

If a student is not at immediate risk to themselves but requires specialist support, you must obtain their consent to refer them to any of the following services as appropriate:

Team NameSupport OfferedContact Details
Academic RegistryProvide advice on and processing of course changes: transferring course/university, repeating a year, module changes, changing mode of study, appeals.[email protected]

01695 584803
Accommodation teamProvide advice/guidance about accommodation both on and off campus, including hall fee queries.[email protected]

01695 650800
Campus LifeEnsure that students live in a safe/secure environment on campus. Promote and organise events to help students make the most of their time here and administrate the Disciplinary Regulations.[email protected]

01695 657570
Campus SupportProvides 24/7 support and security on campus.01695 584227
CareersProvide advice and support with career planning, job hunting, CV writing, volunteering and maximising work experience[email protected]

01695 650800
ChaplaincyProvides both staff and students of all faiths and none with pastoral support. Activities/events focus on friendship, community, support and faith.[email protected]

01695 650800
Counselling (assessed through the Wellbeing team)Referral always via the Wellbeing team. Also provide group workshops and 1:1 therapeutic support to help students find solutions to issues they are facing.[email protected]

01695 650988
Disability and InclusionProvide advice and support for students with physical/sensory/mental health, autism spectrum disorders or other additional needs. Also provide advice and guidance on reasonable adjustments and support available. Support for specific learning needs – including dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD can be found via the Library and Learning Services SpLD team.[email protected]

01695 657568

[email protected]

01695 650800

Law clinicProvide a free clinic to all staff and students run by Year 3 law students who can advise on legal questions or difficulties such as support with housing contract and employment law for example.Law Clinic
Money AdviceProvide advice on all money-related matters including student funding, budgeting, and the Student Support Fund.[email protected]

01695 650800
Students’ UnionProvides representation for students and promotes and hosts activities/events. Provides advice and support to students on various issues including academic, housing, and money.[email protected]

01695 657327
Student Support TeamTargeted support for Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES). Advice and support for all students who are thinking of leaving or at risk of withdrawing or being withdrawn.
[email protected]

01695 650800
Wellbeing teamFirst contact for mental health concerns. Practical advice, support and signposting for any issue impacting on a student’s wellbeing.[email protected]

01695 650988

Students can self-refer to all of the above services and arrange appointments via the Catalyst Helpdesk.

Useful links and information

For more information about PTSD, follow the links below.

NHS guide to PTSD


Get Self Help guide to PTSD

NHS Self-Help Guides

Peace Foundation

Support and self-help resources for students
Staff training at Edge Hill University
Back to the mental health toolkit homepage