Mental Health Problems Surpass Physical Injuries as Most Common Workplace Injury
A recent study conducted by Atticus, a workers’ compensation and disability benefits company based in Los Angeles, has revealed that mental health issues constitute the majority of workplace injury cases. In fact, mental health problems make up a staggering 52% of all workplace injury cases, surpassing any other type of injury.
This finding challenges the conventional understanding of workplace injuries and prompts a fresh perspective on mental health. Dan Schawbel, a workplace expert not affiliated with the study, believes that considering mental health issues as injuries could lead to a reevaluation of the importance of disability insurance and its coverage.
To conduct the study, Atticus utilized non-fatal injury data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fatal and catastrophic injury data from OSHA, and Google Trends data on workplace-related injuries. Additionally, the study ranked US states based on workplace safety and incorporated insights from an Atticus survey of 1,000 workers.
The study further revealed that approximately one in ten workers experience mental health issues related to their jobs, making these issues more prevalent than other types of workplace injuries. For instance, mental health issues are ten times more common than chemical exposure and nearly nine times more common than head injuries.
Dr. Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Coa, an organization that supports the strengthening of mental health programs, finds this result unsurprising. Given that employees increasingly rely on cognitive abilities rather than physical strengths to perform their jobs, it makes sense that mental health issues would be more prevalent. Dr. Anhalt also highlights the need for companies to prioritize psychological well-being, as she believes it is more cost-effective to prevent mental health problems than to address them after they have occurred.
Similarly, Dan Schawbel suggests that companies should foster a culture in which employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health issues with their managers. He also recommends providing more mental health benefits, such as free therapy sessions, as many companies have started doing in recent years.
Despite the prevalence of mental health issues in the workplace, workers’ compensation insurance does not currently cover them. Merritt Ryan of Atticus emphasizes the importance of expanding workers’ compensation insurance to include mental health coverage. Presently, it is nearly impossible to file a workers’ comp claim for mental health, while physical injuries receive medical care and wage replacement benefits. However, Victoria Muñoz Torres, an attorney at Atticus specializing in workers’ compensation, advises workers to consult with lawyers to determine what benefits they may be entitled to. In some cases, if a worker experiences mental health problems as a result of a physical injury, they may be able to attach a secondary claim to the original injury claim. Additionally, if a mental health condition can be traced back to a specific workplace incident, the affected individual may also be eligible for benefits.
The study’s findings shed light on the pressing issue of mental health in the workplace. Companies, individuals, corporations, and insurance companies alike are beginning to recognize the importance of prioritizing mental health to avoid the greater costs associated with addressing mental health problems retroactively. As mental health problems continue to be the most common workplace injury, it is crucial for employers and employees to proactively address and support mental well-being in the workplace.
Dylan Croll is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. For the latest personal finance news, including investment advice, debt management tips, home-buying guidance, retirement planning, and more, click here. Stay updated on the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance.