National PTSD Awareness Day: Facts, statistics, and support options

Medically reviewed by Audrey Kelly, LMFT
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that impacts more than 12 million US adults each year, often affecting those within the military community. National PTSD Awareness Day brings light to post-traumatic stress disorder, how it can occur, and ways to receive support if you are impacted. 

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Trauma can have profound impacts on mental health

What is National PTSD Awareness Day 

National PTSD Awareness Day occurs on June 27th each year during National PTSD Awareness Month in June. The United States Senate and Senator Kent Conrad designated this month in 2014 in memory of a North Dakota National Guard Member, Joe Biel, who had lost his life to suicide after military service. June 27th, Biel’s birthday, was chosen for the day to further honor his memory. 

The day plays a vital role in raising awareness of PTSD symptoms, educating communities about treatment options, and helping individuals and family members understand that support is available. In addition, it strives to reduce the stigma around finding treatment, as trauma care can be an effective way to reduce symptoms. 

How to celebrate this day

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) suggests celebrating the month of June by taking a pledge to raise PTSD awareness. Individuals, organizations, agencies, businesses, VA employees, and healthcare facilities can sign the pledge form by visiting the form page on their website. When pledging support, you may receive phone calls or emails from the VA on ways to offer support to veterans and others experiencing PTSD. 

In June each year, the US VA Department also suggests signing up for the PTSD Awareness virtual walk, which requires 30 minutes of exercise at any point during the month of June in recognition of PTSD awareness month. For some, this might involve getting a group together, organizing a PTSD awareness run, or partaking in individual exercise. To partake, register for the walk with the National Center for PTSD, order a race bib, and then take a photo of yourself partaking in physical activity with the bib. You can also post your photo and tag the National Center for PTSD. 

If you’re concerned you may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD yourself, consider taking the VA’s PTSD self-screening quiz to answer five questions about your symptoms on PTSD Screening Day, which also occurs on June 27th. If you have a high score on the assessment, the VA may offer resources to get help.

PTSD awareness 

Bringing awareness about PTSD may require understanding the condition, its symptoms, and common myths related to it.

PTSD myths 

A few common myths about PTSD include the following: 

  • “PTSD only impacts war veterans.” 
  • “PTSD isn’t real.” 
  • “People should just get over it and move on.”
  • “Everyone who has experienced traumatic events has PTSD.” 
  • “PTSD occurs immediately after a traumatic event.” 

Note that PTSD, historically referred to as “shell shock”, can occur in children, teens, and adults and is not only a condition that occurs in war veterans. Common causes of PTSD in civilian survivors of trauma may include natural disasters, abuse, witnessing a traumatic event, major health conditions or terminal illness, traumatic loss, sexual assault, serious accidents, neglect or abandonment, and many other traumatic events.  

Additionally, PTSD is a condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) with real symptoms that can cause mental and physical health impacts. Those with the condition may struggle to control symptoms without professional support and may feel unable to move on or forget the event. PTSD can cause vivid flashbacks, nightmares, and hyperawareness of surroundings. It may also emerge months or years after an event has occurred. 

PTSD symptoms

According to the National Center for PTSD, there are many symptoms that may be experienced by a person living with PTSD, including the following: 

  • Recurrent, unwanted memories of a traumatic event 
  • Reliving the event (flashbacks) 
  • Avoiding people, places, or objects that remind a person of the event 
  • Negative changes in thinking and mood 
  • Changes in physical and emotional reactions
  • Hyperawareness of surroundings 
  • Substance use, in some cases 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Physical symptoms, such as stomach pain or headaches
  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • An insecure attachment style
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Thoughts of suicide 

Recent studies and statistics 

During National PTSD Awareness Month in June, you may benefit from learning a few of the statistics on the condition, including the following: 

  • 1 in 7 children has experienced trauma
  • Women are two to three times more likely to experience PTSD than men 
  • Insecure attachment styles can change over time 
  • You may not need to remember or verbalize trauma to be able to heal from it in therapy 
  • Distressing physical symptoms and illness are often connected to PTSD 
  • One in three men experience intimate partner violence, which can be a cause of PTSD 
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Who can be diagnosed with PTSD? 

Anyone of any age, gender, sex, sexuality, race, ethnicity, ability, or background can be diagnosed with PTSD. Children may also be susceptible to the condition, as studies show that children may develop it from the divorce of their parents or childhood abuse. Although PTSD can be prevalent in war veterans, frontline workers like firefighters, police officers, and paramedics might also be at risk of developing the condition. 

There are many types of traumas, and what is traumatic to one person may not be to another. Additionally, not everyone who experiences the same trauma may react in the same way or develop a mental health concern. 

Why is PTSD awareness important? 

PTSD awareness can be vital because it may help dispel myths about the condition and encourage those struggling to reach out for support. PTSD may occur alongside other conditions like depression or anxiety, and there may be a risk for dangerous behaviors or practices, such as substance use. 

Additionally, specific traumas like domestic abuse can cause physical illness in those impacted. Early intervention may help individuals know they’re not alone and reduce the stress that can occur due to a prolonged fight-or-flight response.

How to find support for PTSD Symptoms

You can use a few methods to reach out for support if you’re struggling with symptoms of PTSD or have experienced trauma. 

Psychiatry 

Many individuals may turn to psychiatry for support with their symptoms of PTSD. As the condition can cause nightmares, anxiety, and other mental health concerns, medication may be utilized to reduce the impact of these symptoms. Some medications could reduce the chance of nightmares, and others may help individuals fall asleep when struggling with insomnia. 

If you’re interested in medications for PTSD, talk to your psychiatrist about your options. Do not start, stop, or change a medication without consulting your doctor.  

Support groups 

Many peer support groups are available for PTSD and trauma survivors. One of these groups is the CPTSD Community Safe Group, offered by the CPTSD Foundation. If you are a veteran, you might be able to find a local support group by reaching out to your local VA office. 

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Trauma can have profound impacts on mental health

Mental health counseling 

Mental health counseling can be another beneficial option for those experiencing PTSD. Many forms of therapy have been proven effective in treating the symptoms and helping those with the condition manage daily life. For example, EMDR is one type of therapy studied in war veterans and other trauma survivors and found effective for treating PTSD. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be beneficial. 

If you face barriers to care, such as the cost of in-person PTSD treatments, you might also benefit from online therapy, which may be cheaper per month to attend. Many platforms also offer financial aid to those struggling to meet the cost. A recent peer-reviewed study on the impact of online counseling also found that 71% of participants found it preferable to in-person therapy. 

If you’re interested in talking to a counselor online about your PTSD symptoms or learning more about trauma, consider reaching out through a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. Both platforms offer over 30,000 licensed therapists specializing in various mental health areas and treatment types. 

Takeaway

National PTSD Awareness Day brings awareness to PTSD and trauma and encourages individuals to reach out for support if they are struggling. If you are in crisis, reach out to one of the above hotlines. If you’re looking for long-term support, consider contacting a counselor for further guidance and support. You are not alone, and many PTSD treatments work.

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