Trauma-Related Disorders among Psychiatric Workers

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Canadians are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health in the workplace. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has identified workplace mental health as a strategic priority, and recognizes that sometimes traumatic events occur in the workplace and have an impact on workers’ mental health.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental disorder that can occur after a person is exposed to actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation. Not surprisingly, a lot of attention has been paid to treating and preventing PTSD among military personnel, police, firefighters, and other first responders including those in healthcare. Among nurses, post-traumatic stress can lead to compassion fatigue, lower healthcare quality, and lost work time. However, much less is known about the risks faced by psychiatric workers, the very people who provide daily treatment and care for people with serious mental disorders.

Although most people with mental disorders are not violent and live productive lives in the community, some are prone to violence and may have other behaviours that make caring for them stressful. Yet little is known about trauma-related disorders among psychiatric workers.


This project, led by Dr. Zoe Hilton at the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, aims to identify the prevalence of traumatic events and trauma-related disorders among staff working on psychiatric units. Through surveys, focus groups and interviews, we will study what helps them stay mentally healthy, what barriers they face and the supports they find when seeking help. This work will help us identify the best avenues for preventing trauma-related disorders among our psychiatric healthcare workers.


For more information or to subscribe to our project newsletter, please feel free to contact Dr. Zoe Hilton:

Research Partners and Supporters:


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We acknowledge the support of the Province of Ontario. This research is supported with funds from WorkSafeBC, the Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia, and Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The views, findings, opinions and conclusions expressed herein do not represent the views of WorkSafeBC, WSIB, or the Government of Ontario.