Opinion | UI and Iowa City should better address PTSD Awareness Day

More recognition of PTSD Awareness Day can increase awareness and sensitivity


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Close-up Of Male Soldier In Military Uniform Holding Wooden Cubes With PTSD Text

Ally Pronina, Opinions Columnist

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is something we have all heard of, but society still has yet to fully understand.

PTSD is a mental health issue arising after experiencing or witnessing a traumatizing event. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the event.

June 27 was PTSD Awareness Day. In order to create a more sensitive and accommodating environment for people with this mental illness, University of Iowa and Iowa City should have done more to recognize this day.

One reason PTSD is something deserving of awareness at universities, including the UI, is the issue of content warnings. Throughout my time as a college student, I have noticed the only time professors provide content warnings is if it is a psychology class.

This is not good for students with PTSD. Triggers of PTSD include sights, smells, sounds, or sights which remind a person of a traumatic event.  Traumatic events which can lead to PTSD include military combat, natural disaster, violent assaults, or car accidents, as well as other incidents.

Talking about a politician’s sexual assault allegations can trigger someone who has PTSD after being raped. Therefore, trigger warnings should extend beyond psychology classes.

Whenever a violent crime on campus happens, the UI issues Hawk Alerts. This is a great system so students know about dangerous places on campus, but to prevent from possibly unleashing PTSD symptoms in someone who might have been a victim of that violent crime, there need to be trigger warnings.

Another reason why PTSD Awareness Day needed more attention is to change the on-campus culture around it. I hear people use the word “PTSD” loosely. I have heard people say they will get PTSD if they see anyone from their freshman year floor. Also, I have heard people say being reminded of a hard course triggers PTSD.

While I understand no harm is intended with these statements, they also are not the most sensitive or considerate of people who actually have PTSD. They have gone through so many more struggles in life than just a hard class or bad dorm floor. While again not the intention, comments like these also undermine a serious mental illness and make it seem like no big deal.

How could PTSD Awareness Day have been given more attention in Iowa City and at the UI? More attention could have been given to the issues in the first-year mandatory course: Success at Iowa. If students had a resource to learn about what PTSD is, that could change the culture around it. Also, counselors from UI Counseling Center or Iowa City could talk to students about what PTSD really is.

Regardless of what is done, more needs to be done to acknowledge the issue at both a local and national level.

Despite the fact about eight million American adults will experience PTSD in any given year, it is given practically no media attention. More stories about people who have gone through PTSD can give hope to others with it and increase societal awareness.

Stories like this can also help people realize PTSD is not a sign of weakness or something to be embarrassed about. People with PTSD have gone through horrific events which one needs utmost courage to get through.

Despite PTSD Awareness Day being over, the anxiety disorder remains a serious mental illness worthy of more attention, including on-campus. The UI and Iowa City recognizing PTSD Awareness Day could have increased awareness and sensitiivty of a very real and traumatizing condition.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.