The connection between the mind and body has long been debated by everyone from ancient philosophers to contemporary scientists. Though some healthcare practices still consider the two as separate entities, there is increasing research supporting a relationship. The World Health Organization affirms this idea, defining health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” and stating that mental health is an “integral and essential component of health.”
Research shows there is also an explicit link between physical injury and mental health. In a review of 41 research papers on the relationship between mental health and injury, studies reveal that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety were frequently associated with traumatic physical injury. Studies also demonstrate that psychological risk factors can explain as much as a 35% to 40% variation in how a person responds to an injury. Though not every injury results in mental health issues, many do.
This is especially apparent in the case of injuries tied to workers’ compensation claims. Injured workers have a higher likelihood of experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In turn, these mental health concerns can increase claim costs and duration and result in delayed return to work – especially when left untreated.
MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS IN THE WORKPLACE
A mental health disorder is characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotional regulation, or behavior. In addition to mental health concerns brought on through injury, workers sometimes bring with them factors that may have been present before the injury. These also impact recovery and claims.