Mental Health Awareness Month: The unspoken effects of an Arc Flash

Mental Health Awareness Month: The unspoken effects of an Arc Flash

Anyone who has worked within the electrical services industry will be well aware of the physical dangers of an arc flash incident – around 40% are fatal. However, very few of these same workers are aware that a consequence of experiencing an electrical explosion is post-traumatic stress and even depression / anxiety.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Whilst experiencing some sort of post-traumatic response after being involved in an arc flash incident is completely normal, where it starts to become problematic is when it begins having an impact on a person’s ability to perform ordinary day-to-day tasks or stops them from being able to return to work.

Where PTSD presents itself, it is important that the individual receives treatment for it. Where help is not given, it often results in the disorder becoming much more severe and has the potential to negatively impact upon both personal and professional relationships.

Depression / Anxiety

A diagnosis of PTSD commonly coincides with a diagnosis of depression / anxiety also. In fact, PTSD is actually characterised by symptoms of anxiety, flashbacks, and reliving traumatic experiences. Depression, however, is characterised by low moods, loss of interest and pleasure, and changes in energy levels. Just like PTSD, depression too is a common response after experiencing a traumatic or stressful events, so it is perhaps not surprising then that these two conditions can and do occur at the same time.

Loss of Income

It often becomes the case that because, the individual is no longer able to provide financially for their family, that they develop a sense of worthlessness – because of this they withdraw themselves from participating in family events. If not being able to earn an income continues for an extended period of time, then the person and their family may begin to face financial hardship. This is where charities like the Electrical Industries Charity (EIC) can be of great assistance.

Time for Recovery

These feelings can persist for a very long time – this is particularly true where no treatment is given. Where cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication and other treatments are provided alongside the necessary support and advice, the symptoms of a PTSD and depression / anxiety may gradually fade over time. However, these can come back at any time should they encounter reminders of the arc flash incident that they experienced.

Charities Providing Support

Despite the fact that experiencing mental health issues, such as PTSD, depression / anxiety, after being subject to an electrical explosion is actually very common, many sufferers still feel isolated by what they experience post incident. This is because it is common for men, especially amongst those working within the engineering industry, not to talk about their feelings and any issues that they may be experiencing, as they do not want to burden others with what they are feeling.

It is this lack of an identifiable medical community that has seen charities such as the EIC, Battle Buddy, Mates in Mind, and the Anxiety & Depression Association of America setting up. They all aim to help the sufferers of mental health issues to open up and talk about how they are feeling with trained professionals or even just with like-minded other men. This is especially poignant given the fact that 40% of men either find it hard or just simply refuse to talk about their own mental health.

If you have experienced a traumatic event, such as an arc flash, then the charities listed below will be able to help you talk about it and together we can begin to start breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health.

Electrical Industries Charity

The Electrical Industries Charity is the only charity in the United Kingdom (UK) that exists for the purpose of supporting workers (and their families) employed within the electrical and energy sector.

“Of the many thousands of workers that turn to us every year for assistance, a third of those are struggling with mental health issues, in the for of depression or anxiety. Through our various fundraising initiatives, we are able to fund psychiatric assessments, counselling sessions, specialist therapy options, emotional support, workplace liaison, family assistance and more for those most at need” Tessa Ogle, EIC.

The charity has a support team that is available 365 days a year and their helpline service is free and confidential to industry members. You can access support through support@electricalcharity.org or contact 0800 652 1618.

Mates in Mind Charity

Mates in Mind aims to raise awareness and address the stigma of poor mental health, as well as promoting positive mental wellbeing across the workplace. The charity helps to make sense of available options and support to employers within the construction and utilities industry to address mental health within their workplace. They provide clear information and guidance to employers on everything relating to mental health matters, mental illness, mental wellbeing, and how they can address each of these within their own organisations.

They have the ambitious aim of reaching 75% of the entire UK construction industry with their awareness raising message by the year 2025. In order to do this, they plan on working collaboratively through supply chains and with various trade bodies in the next few years.

To find out how to get involved, call their Programme Support Team on 020 3510 5018 or visit their website www.matesinmind.org.

Battle Buddy

A UK community interest company (CIC), Battle Buddy was founded by veterans with the aim of providing long-term support and treatment for those suffering from complex mental health problems. Unlike many other charities, Battle Buddy not only focuses on the individual, but also provides support to their family. This is because mental health can have a hugely detrimental effect on family life and personal relationships and this charity is passionate about keeping families together.

Battle Buddy is there to make sure that anyone who needs it gets the help that they need in order to rebuild their life for the better 

Battle Buddy UK has a 24/7 helpline (07852937163), as well as a large active support group on Facebook. Because men can sometimes be stubborn about reaching out for help, the charity accepts calls from friends and family members who can see the signs that their loved one needs help.

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