Friday, October 4, 2013

Lessons Learned about #PTSD

So many things have been learned about #PTSD. As a person who unknowingly battled PTSD all her life and stumbled on meditation to control the physical manifestations (with the intent to learn how to astral project which could have had serious psychological deleterious results); living with a Vet with severe PTSD added to my own personal challenges compounded with PTSD from cancer treatment. Never understanding PTSD, much less combat PTSD; we have been going through a tremendous learning experience.

1) PTSD can be contagious.

Originally I laughed when I heard this. After hearing and speaking to several who deal with it regularly, it's not a laughing matter anymore. Before a person makes a dismissive retort to this, research it.

2) Several PTSD patients understand the side effects that pharmaceuticals will have on a person including (but not limited to) emotional disconnect to any events in life. The pharmaceuticals can completely sever the 'fight' or 'flight' responses which friends and loved ones misconstrue the patient as despondent, uncaring, and selfish.

3) There are natural methods that can be used in order to alternatively address severe depression and suicidal tendencies (please NOTE-professionals should be involved in this choice. If PTSD has advanced to suicidal thoughts, get professionals involved immediately):

a) Inositol: Orthomolecular MD's have prescribed as much as 12 g (1 g = 1000 mg) p/day.
b) Cortisol: Cortisol is an important factor that has everything to do with fight or flight responses. When adrenal glands have been depleted, it exacerbates PTSD. Again, the professionals can help determine if this is the case in the patient.
c) Tumeric: Tumeric is a natural Predisone alternative that assists with inflammatory issues that may arise from adrenal gland depletion. Adrenal gland depletion and lack of Cortisol will also exacerbate joint inflammatory problems.
d) Cannabis: As controversial as this topic is; Cannabis has beneficial effects on the Amygdala. There are several studies showing positive results and ingesting Cannabis has helped several Vets suffering with PTSD manage their physical and psychological challenges.
e) Positive and understanding support: Having positive and understanding support from people who are not creating a fog of emotional blackmail is crucial to the steps to recovery. Eliminating emotional vampires (either temporarily or permanently) is important so the patient can effectively begin the steps to healing without snide remarks, guilt trips, and emotional comments making the patient's process all about the emotional vampire's needs. Isolation is not ideal for the patient but a good support system is crucial to the PTSD patient's need for a safe environment.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

College Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Safety while on campus is a topic that should be deeply ingrained into the college culture.  If one were to research the crimes that occurred on the Nation's most dangerous campuses; it becomes clear how you, as a student, have a vested interest in safety awareness.  Do the research, know the safety stats for that college you are or have plans to attend.

Burglaries and robberies combined are the highest crimes committed on higher education campuses.  Do these statistics include not just physical security but logical security as well?  With technology and the amount of data we store and how we access that data is where logical security comes into play. 

College life is intended to prepare students for the real world.  In the real world, companies impress that SAFETY ALWAYS COMES FIRST.  OSHA regulations on safety are strictly enforced with heavy fines if those regulations are breached and large corporations will fire personnel who do not follow the OSHA safety guidelines.  So as students; it is crucial to begin to embrace safety, familiarize ourselves with OSHA safety regulations, and to be aware if an organization is also aware of those regulations.  In working for any organization, or being involved in any organization; your safety should always come first.


What Do the Best Companies Do for Safety and Health?
Les Smith, manager of business development for DNV Business Solutions,
a recognized global performance measurement firm, finds that the best companies:

Clearly describe what people are expected to do for safety 

Every level of employee, from the most senior executive to the newly hired worker, clearly understands what is expected. There are specific, demanding standards for each person in all major work activities. Without adequate standards, there can be no meaningful measurement, evaluation, correction, or commendation of performance.

Make safety a line management responsibility and accountability 

Safety is better served when it is so ingrained into every activity that it becomes impossible to ignore it. There is little talk of doing things the safe way and more talk of doing things the right way. Safety is equal to all other considerations of production, costs, and quality. This is reflected in performance appraisals, salary adjustments, and promotions.

Incorporate safety into the business process as an operational strategy Leaders around the world increasingly recognize that a well-managed safety system provides an operational strategy to improve overall management. But in recent years a significant number of major organizations have discovered that applying the tools and techniques of good safety management gives them not only reduced injuries and illnesses but also measurable improvements in efficiency, quality, and productivity.

Use proactive health and safety measurements 

Leading management consultants have emphasized:

“If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it; if you can’t manage it, you can’t improve it.”The heart of
safety management is measuring performance in quantifiable, objective terms. Leading companies
constantly assess their processes to determine if they are adequately controlling risk. Although they include in their “safety” measurement after-the-fact consequences such as OSHA recordable rates and lost time rates, they do not rely solely on trailing indicators.

Have executives that do not support health and safety management—they lead it 

Scaling the heights of health and safety excellence requires the same leadership skills as attaining excellence in any other area. Health and safety performance is a reflection of corporate culture, and senior management influences that culture more than any other group. As in other areas, executive leadership will get the kind of safety performance it insists on.

Practices and programs

Operational integration Safety is integrated into all facility operations and processes.
Motivational programs
Programs are in place to encourage employees to recommend safety improvements and to implement them. Companies employ various types of recognition and rewards in such programs, ranging from management commendation to financial rewards.
3 Behavioral observation/feedback A specific program is in place for employees to provide constructive/
supportive feedback to co-workers on their safety behavior and opportunities for improvement.
Safety committee
An effective safety committee with broad-based participation has been established and
meets regularly to discuss goals/performance/progress on initiatives.
Case management Sites work closely with medical professionals to evaluate occupational injuries and
illnesses, to ensure that prompt medical treatment is provided, and to coordinate efforts to return recovering employees to their own jobs or alternative assignments as soon as practicable.
Safety survey Periodic employee surveys or focus group safety discussions are conducted to assess opportunities for improvement and corrective/preventive action to address needs.

Managers are required to show visible support for safety and health by:
1 Routinely voicing concern for worker safety and health, emphasizing it as a company value.
2 Regularly discussing worker safety and health at staff and employee meetings.
3 Attending and participating in safety committee meetings.
4 Doing frequent “walk-arounds” of the facility, commenting on effective or ineffective safety and
health practices observed.
5 Ensuring adequate resources for worker safety and health (e.g., a qualified EHS manager responsible
for supporting worker safety and health, adequate personal protective equipment, funds for appropriate
equipment maintenance and safety improvements).
6 Ensuring employee and management training at appropriate times and frequencies to minimize the potential for accidents, injuries, or illness in the workplace.
7 Creating a trusting relationship among employees that encourages prompt disclosure of accidents, near misses, and safety and health issues and recommendations.
8 Ensuring that work activities that cannot be performed safely are suspended pending corrective action.
Given the high emphasis placed on management commitment by leading companies, it is not surprising that this category rates highest overall, with some 90 percent of respondents indicating that they use all listed strategies. While every best practices tool in the management segment enjoys more than 85 percent usage, the most widely utilized are adequate resources and adequate training, adopted by more than 95 and 93 percent of surveyed companies, respectively.

Four practices in this category stand out as the most effective, with more than 70 percent of respondents rating them at 8 or higher:

•Suspending work activities pending corrective action (the strong leader, earning the highest rating, “extremely effective,” from 44 percent of respondents)
•Creating a trusting relationship among employees
•Ensuring adequate resources
•Emphasizing concern for worker safety as a company value

Familiarize yourself with Safety and Emergency Preparedness as a student and you will be better prepared for real world application with OSHA regulations.

What can students do to help create a safer learning environment?
What programs, groups and measurements can be created in order to create a safer campus?

Strike the conversation, engage each other, and take action for safety as this has everything to do with your future and your success.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Turning the Negative Into a Positive

PBS NewsHour wrote an article about unpaid internships.  Great topic of discussion as I travel down the path of self-discovery, human relations, understanding where my mistakes were made during employment situations as a displaced worker and recovering cancer patient.

As a college student in the first quarter; it has been a trying moment to find a balance of personal challenges, getting an education, coping with PTSD, acknowledging that my disability is not a weakness but a personal challenge that is unique to my personal experiences, and learning how to wade through the emotions, the challenges, and what I need to do to succeed while interacting in school, with employers, with friends, and relatives.

Internship is discussed several times as it is part of the college experience.  However, the important factor when thinking about internship is understanding that there is a need as a student to fulfill that requirement (if required in your program of choice), but to also understand our personal needs.  For an example:

  • Why did you choose that area of expertise for a profession?  What passion did that profession choice speak to?
  • Where do you desire to take that passion during your career?
  • What type of organization do you see yourself dedicating your time, effort, blood sweat and tears to?
  • What type of leaders do you desire to report to?
  • What works best for you in order to be effective and successful?
  • How do you see yourself in your career 5 years down the road?  Ten years?
  • What is your current home life like?  What challenges are you faced with?
  • What is your current friendships like?  What challenges are you faced with?
  • What are your own personal challenges with yourself?

There are many other questions at play that each of us must consider that is unique to our extrinsic/intrinsic motivations, passion, tendencies, needs and wants.  There should be several moments of evaluation and checks in order to insure that the path we are taking speaks to our desires without personal agenda with deleterious impacts on others and without the intent to purposely manipulate others.  Unless that is your intent.

The intent of an internship is to provide a student with life application.  To provide the student with the opportunity to learn how their education applies in the work force.  There are many people in the world with many life experiences that have their own opinions to contribute.  The key with the internship is to allow the student to obtain their own experiences.  Some experiences will be similar to others, some will be unique.  However each experience will be somewhat unique to that student because of the various experiences through life that student has already been through.  The circumstance may be the same, some of the emotions may be the same, but how we cope and what we learn will be different for each of us.

So, to contribute to the topic of internship, as a displaced worker who has spent many years in the work force; the message in this is that we have choices.  We all have choices.  Yes, we also have needs that are important.  Bills to pay, a degree to earn, etc.  However those needs do not have to dictate who we contribute what little time we already have to offer.  We do not have to relinquish our self respect and our power because we need to perform an internship.  Would it be nice to be paid?  Of course.  Do we have to be paid?  That's the topic of debate discussed in the PBS article.  

From my own personal experience and choice; because I have been in the work force and while I go to school it was my choice to volunteer to contribute what time I could in order to obtain the experience I need.  There is more value for myself to volunteer my time, to work along side professionals who have much to teach and share than to be compensated financially.  At some given point and time, that will change.

When it does, I will choose but choose wisely.  Just like choosing which employer I will dedicate my time to.  Do I need a job?  Of course.  However I do not need to be diminished as a human being by working for an employer who has the mentality that I should be "happy to have a job".  I do not desire to have a "job".  I desire to work with an employer with a career.  Is it possible?  Absolutely, yes.  I have personally experienced it and dedicated many hours to that employer with exuberance, with excitement, and eagerness for the day to start so I can be part of that environment again.

It is out there, and there are large companies and corporations who have the culture where that provide that intrinsic satisfaction.  It is a matter of doing our homework, interviewing the interviewer about the corporate culture, asking the right questions about the manager's style of management, and asking the organization what they view a successful employee to be.

There are also several small private companies (more so because they are not subject to the public corporation challenges) where your passion can be met.  Again, it boils down to doing the research and doing the homework on the following:

These skills are skills you can learn as you go through your internship with an organization.  Know who you are doing your internship with; are they the right organization for you?  What are the experiences of the previous interns and students?

You are in control of your destiny.  Don't relinquish that control to employers or organizations who will not appreciate you as a contributor to their organization.  You do not have to do that in order to get the experience you need.