Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Heroes: Teachers
This Ricci Law Firm post is the third in a series to address the high number of North Carolina heroes diagnosed every year with PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder. Of course, heroes experience physical harm, but they also experience mental harm…sometimes debilitating. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm help heroes get the benefits they deserve under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.
Teachers as heroes
We’ve blogged about firefighters and first responders, but teachers are heroes, too. Teachers, principals, and education assistants work tirelessly to educate our youth, to keep them safe, and to mold them into responsible adults. Sadly, now more than ever, teachers also put themselves at risk of harm for the sake of their job. And that makes them heroes.
It’s no secret that school violence has been on the rise for years. And guess who often finds themselves breaking up fights, intercepting threats, and inadvertently getting injured in the process? That’s right—teachers.
The National Education Association recently published a report identifying some examples:
- A 12-year-old from Arizona who smashed teachers with a computer keyboard and kicked and punched until a police officer could restrain him;
- An eighth-grade teacher in New Hampshire attacked by a student, leaving her on crutches;
- A substitute teacher from Pittsburgh who lost hearing in one ear and suffered blurred vision after students tossed an explosive into his classroom;
- A Missouri teacher who collapsed and died of a heart attack after a physical fight with a nine-year-old student.
Teachers under attack—a problem that is widespread and growing every year. In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the country’s 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal data summarized in Education Week magazine. With more than 99,000 public school teachers in North Carolina, there’s a good chance we all know at least one teacher who has been assaulted.
Long after their physical bruises have healed, many teachers continue to suffer. Some teachers report extreme anxiety, thoughts of hopelessness, loss of energy, depression, and even symptoms of PTSD, such as panic attacks and flashbacks. These symptoms can be even worse for teachers who return to the same school environment where they encountered the trauma, or for teachers who do not receive appropriate support from co-workers and administration in the aftermath of a trauma.
Victims of assault and school violence should receive immediate and appropriate psychological care. Unfortunately, for many teachers, paying out-of-pocket for a private therapist simply is not in the budget.
Workers’ compensation for teachers
North Carolina teachers and educators who develop PTSD because they witnessed a violent event, experienced or broke up an accident, or encountered some other trauma while performing their job may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The Workers’ Compensation Act allows for psychological therapy or counseling, medication, medical treatment, and disability benefits if the condition causes the teacher to miss work.
Ricci Law Firm represents teachers injured at work and teachers and other educators who develop depression, mood disorders, or PTSD due to their employment. The legal team at Ricci Law Firm can evaluate the teacher’s unique situation to help determine his or her rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. If you or a loved one is a teacher or other educator experiencing symptoms of PTSD, contact Ricci Law Firm for a consultation.