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7th April 2020

Over a third of security operatives in the UK exhibit symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD) according to a recent study by researchers at Solent University and the University of Portsmouth. 

From more than 700 people interviewed, 39.3% were showing symptoms of PTSD after suffering varying degrees of verbal abuse and threats of physical violence to themselves and other security operatives, during the course of their employment. 

Dr Mark Doyle, Chartered Psychologist and Lecturer in the School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences at Solent, collaborated with Risto Talas, Mark Button and Jaideep Das from the University of Portsmouth on the research project. Their paper, Violence, abuse and the implications for mental health and wellbeing of security operatives in the United Kingdom: the invisible problem, was recently published by Taylor & Francis Online.

“We wanted to explore this particular area as there was a lack of research on the frequency of workplace trauma for security operatives,” explains Dr Doyle. “We wanted to explore what the impact of this workplace trauma had on those individuals in terms of mental health, wellbeing and substance use.” 

The study showed that serious underlying issues exist in the private security sector in terms of the degree of PTSD that is prevalent among the workforce and a lack of provision of mental health and wellbeing services provided by the security companies to employees. 

“We were not expecting to find the high levels of PTSD that was observed in the sample,” Dr Doyle continues. “We expected the relationship between workplace trauma and mental health to be significant, however the strength of this relationship and its links with substance misuse were surprising and highlights the need for more exploration of workplace trauma.” 

The four are now working on a second paper, due to be completed in June, exploring a more quantitative approach to examine the underlying groups of individuals at risk.

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Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash