Workplace Microaggressions & PTSD

I was excited to start a new job in a well-paid position. It was in the field I enjoy most working in (mental health) and worked not only with private insurance but also our state's low income program OHP. I was really enjoying the atmosphere of the office but then I started noticing things that made me feel really uncomfortable.

During my training, one of the staff members told us a story about how she was alone on a street and there was a Black man walking towards her and how "Sorry to say, but I was scared". The trainer kind of made fun of her for it which was a nice way to defuse the situation. The folks at the training were all pretty cool despite that and never made weird comments about race or sexuality. They also warned me about my future office manager.

Once working my office manager asked me some inappropriate questions about my sexuality based on stereotyping my clothing choices. She also asked me about my religious beliefs which is also inappropriate (and illegal) when she invaded my desk space and noticed a keychain with a khamsa on it. On top of that, this same person made rude comments about "Mexicans" and how she was frustrated by their accents. This came up a few times. My coworker knew about my biracial background and corrected her but to no avail. You really can't win when people think they've got a right to say something. What was ultimately distressing was many people in the office's unwillingness to help people with thick accents. I know that phones can make hearing people more difficult, but it is no excuse to not help a person get the care they need because you have a more difficult time understanding them. Chances are they are having issues understanding you too. This is especially problematic for people seeking mental health care.

Not only did these situations arise, but the manager created an unsafe atmosphere for us to work with her negativity and her emotional dumping. I ultimately ended up quitting after two weeks. I told the supervisor during the exit interview about all of this and how I felt I could not work under those conditions. She surprised me by informing me that complaints had been made against that manager before. What doesn't surprise me is that she is still with the company.

New studies have shown that micro-aggressions (homophobia, misogyny, racism etc) can lead to PTSD in the long term. This is something I want to investigate in my research on therapy and PTSD. I have encountered ignorance before in the social work/mental health fields but nothing this blatantly illegal or negative. Have you had similar experiences?

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