Q Why do employees have so much trouble getting workers’ comp for mental illness?
Some workers are able to get employee benefits due to mental illness, but thousands more will suffer in silence until they are simply unable to work any longer. While the workers’ compensation system now allows payments for psychological injury, fighting to get those benefits remains an uphill battle for a number of reasons, including:
- Stigma. Patients themselves are reluctant to get treatment at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital or similar facilities simply because they are unwilling to admit they are suffering from mental illness. A recent survey of workers with musculoskeletal injuries revealed that, although 24 percent were receiving some form of treatment for depression, only 13 percent admitted to having depression.
- Physician diagnosis. In order to receive workers’ compensation for a psychological illness, patients must rely on their doctors to provide medical evidence of their condition. Unfortunately, many small hospitals or family physicians are resistant to addressing depression symptoms or even diagnosing a psychological condition. It is up to the patient to push for a referral to a psych clinic, which many are unwilling to do—even when they have identified their symptoms.
- Catch-22. Even when patients seek out depression treatment, they may risk their workers’ compensation case by doing it. Many patients who had suffered from psychological conditions before the accident may be denied compensation for the accident, or denied additional treatment payments because the mental illness counts as a pre-existing condition. In addition, accident-triggered psychological factors—such as post-traumatic stress disorder—may be easier to prove and are directly related to the accident, but patients will again have difficulty proving the extent of their mental trauma.
If you are suffering from a psychological injury, take heart: you can get workers’ compensation as long as you can provide evidence of mental illness. To find out how we can help you collect medical information and testimonials that will increase your chance of your claim being approved, click the contact link at the top of this page.