Trauma At Work: Know Your Benefits

Work-related injuries and illnesses have always been covered by worker's comp insurance but there is a fairly new category of coverage some workers may not know about. As work-related traumatic events have become more common there has been a growing awareness of just how much damage can occur as a result. Read on to find out more about one of the more recognizable mental disorders associated with mental trauma, PTSD.

What is post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) like?

When you are subject to a traumatic event your mind goes into a protective mode at first and you may falsely believe that you are coping just fine. Eventually, however, your unconscious mind begins to be affected by what happened, leading to several common symptoms, any of which could make it difficult if not impossible to attend to your work properly. For example:

  • Flashbacks in which you are forced to relive the traumatic event repeatedly
  • Nightmares
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleeping disorders

and more.

What to know about (PTSD)

Most people just naturally think of what soldiers returning from war experience when they think of PTSD, but that is far from the only way this disorder can affect people. If your job puts you in contact with the potential to be involved in or witness a traumatic event then you are at risk whether you are a soldier or not. Almost any worker can be exposed to horrific and life-altering events in the workplace and you do not necessarily have to be in a dangerous or stressful job to do so. For example, consider the following job situations that could expose workers to trauma:

1. As bank teller you are involved in a tense hostage situation where a co-worker is shot and killed.

2. As an office worker you are attacked and raped in your company's parking structure.

3. As a retail worker you witness a car crashing into the front window of the store injuring dozens and killing two customers.

These are but a few examples that don't include numerous other jobs that have workers responding to fires, car wrecks, shootings, explosions and more.

The DSM-5

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders volume 5 (DSM-5) with its most recent release officially recognized PTSD as a mental condition, which cleared the way for workers to gain access to workers' compensation benefits. The coverage for this condition can vary but if you are the victim of a traumatic event you might be entitled to benefits when you are too traumatized to work at your job.

Getting Help

It can be more of a challenge to receive workers' comp coverage for mental disorders like PTSD, so you must take special care to seek the help of mental health professional at once. Let your supervisor know and insist that a workers' comp claim form be submitted. If you encounter problems with your claim, speak to a workers compensation attorney at once.