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How mental health intersects with workers’ comp

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

For many decades, mental health struggles were a social taboo in New Jersey, and that extended to the workplace. While countless people suffered from mental health issues, they tended to be kept under wraps, and as a result employers rarely had to directly address mental health.

However, our society is growing more enlightened about mental health, and as the stigma fades away employers are now reckoning with the impact of mental health and how to safeguard their employees’ mental health. Depending on the circumstances, this can extend to offering workers’ compensation for mental health issues.

What makes a mental health issue viable for workers comp?

Just like with physical injuries or ailments, not all mental health issues fall under the umbrella of a condition covered by workers’ compensation. While many mental health conditions can be debilitating and require extensive treatment, mental health issues compensable under workers’ compensation must meet several criteria.

One of the most important is that the condition arises from or relates to the job or work itself. If you’re unable to prove or demonstrate that causality, it’s unlikely workers’ compensation will cover your mental health condition.

One prominent example of a mental health condition generally covered by workers’ compensation is trauma caused by observing or experiencing a tragic or upsetting event. For instance, first responders like medical care professionals, firefighters and police may encounter situations that take a heavy mental toll. But any profession has the potential to present a worker with a similar situation.

Proactive steps toward better mental health on the job

Many employers are beginning to realize the benefits of addressing mental health with their employees. As a result, they’re beginning to offer more programs and options to employees for maintaining their mental health, as well as diagnosis and treatment programs in the event that an employee is dealing with mental health issues.

Additionally, numerous employers have identified offering flexibility to employees as a key step to improving mental health. By empowering employees to make decisions about their work conditions, these employers reap the benefits of improved employee mental health.

Workers’ compensation isn’t just for physical conditions anymore. Mental health issues may be covered by workers’ comp, and if you qualify, it’s crucial that you understand your rights and options.