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Using Language to empower those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress

Friday 23 June, 2017

Source: The Road Home, The Repat Foundation


(L-R) Commissioner Chris Burns with Dr Glenny and Lisa Ranson from her research team. (Photo The Road Home, The Repat Foundation)

A new research project is underway to explore transforming language to achieve positive impacts on beliefs, attitudes, responses and actions towards veterans and emergency service personnel living with Post-Traumatic Stress.

Former Army officer and now communication researcher with the University of South Australia, Dr Leanne Glenny, a recent recipient in our 2017 grant round, is leading this exciting research. Dr Glenny, along with her team of researchers will observe and report on the language used in the mass media and social media and the impact language choice has on people affected and their families.

This research will mean that for the first time globally, a language guide will be developed for the media and organisations that support or report on people living with Post-Traumatic Stress. The aim of this is to empower individuals, community groups and the media with an understanding of how language can be used to positively effect the health and wellbeing of trauma affected personnel who have served, or are serving, in the ADF and emergency services.

“We aim to understand the impact language has on veterans and emergency service personnel and their families and to also provide guidance about the use of language for the media and ex-service organisations,” Dr Glenny said.

“By focusing on mass media discussion and social media conversations about Post-Traumatic Stress, we are aiming to identify the issues that lead to negative views on Post-Traumatic Stress and also change the negative stigma surrounding it.

“We will be interviewing veterans and emergency service personnel who are living with Post-Traumatic Stress and their families.  Ideally, we want to gain an insight into how they feel about the type of language being used, what is empowering for them and most importantly what has a negative impact on them.”

Along with a language guide, Dr Glenny and her team are eager to create workshops for ex-service organisations and other supporters to provide suggestions and tips gathered from their research on the type of language that can empower those living with Post-Traumatic Stress.

“Past research with servicemen and women living with Post-Traumatic Stress has found they feel and fear stigmatisation, resulting in a reluctance to open up to others or seek help and treatment,” Dr Glenny said.

“If this problem can be influenced through the careful use of language, there could be positive health outcomes in the long term. Ultimately, this project is about empowerment through language because it may encourage those to acknowledge they are battling Post-Traumatic Stress and to seek help rather than hide away.

“Receiving funding for research in communication is very hard and I am so grateful for the opportunity from The Repat Foundation – The Road Home has given us. Many are working to achieve positive health outcomes for those affected and their families and I believe re-thinking our language can provide an important contribution to that aim.”


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