WORKERS’ WITH PRE-EXISTING MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Many Workers, prior to starting employment, have diagnosed medical illnesses.  There are a variety of forms of mental illness.

A study looked into mentally ill individuals in the workplace.  This study discusses how work impacts the mentally ill. This information is important with respect to workers’ compensation stress claims.

This article will discuss mental illness, forms of mental illness, work’s impact on mentally ill individuals, and what it means in the context of workers’ compensation stress claims.

What Is Mental Illness?

 Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. Psychiatry.org. “ Mental illness is common. In a given year: nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness, one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a diagnosable substance use disorder.” Psychiatry.org

There is a variety of mental illnesses.  These include anxiety disorder, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia,

What Is California Psychiatry Injury Causation Standard?

Labor Code Section 3208.3 provides the causation standard.  The causation burden per (b)(1) is that “In order to establish that a psychiatric injury is compensable, an employee shall demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that actual events of employment were predominant as to all causes combined of the psychiatric injury”  This means greater than 50 percent.

There is a lower standard in certain circumstances.  Per (b)(2), “… in the case of employees whose injuries resulted from being a victim of a violent act or from direct exposure to a significant violent act, the employee shall be required to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that actual events of employment were a substantial cause of the injury.”  Substantial cause is at least 35 to 40 percent.

 Does Working Impact Mental Illness?

The study found that “Individuals with mental illness who are employed, compared to those who are unemployed, reported slightly higher levels of overall life satisfaction and psychophysiological health”. Granjard A, Mihailovic M, Amato C, et al. Occupation and life satisfaction among individuals with mental illness: the mediation role of self-reported psychophysiological health. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10829. Published 2021 Jan 29. doi:10.7717/peerj.10829.

How Does The Study Relate to Work Injuries?

Mentally ill individuals may have improved health and satisfaction when they are working.  Therefore, this improvement in their mental state should be factored into work injury causation analysis.   Also, it may have value with respect to permanent disability apportionment.

What Was in the Study’s Reporting?

The study reported that “, the mechanism underlying the relationship between having an occupation and life satisfaction implies that having an occupation enhances individuals’ perception of their own physical and psychological health, which in turn might increase their satisfaction with life” Granjard A, Mihailovic M, Amato C, et al. Occupation and life satisfaction among individuals with mental illness: the mediation role of self-reported psychophysiological health. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10829. Published 2021 Jan 29. doi:10.7717/peerj.10829.

What Is the Impact of Unemployment on Mental Illness?

The study noted that “[u]nemployment can lead to, among other things, diminished social status, financial debt, reduced self-esteem, and feelings of guilt. Most importantly, unemployment is significantly associated with psychiatric problems and approximately 37% higher risk of suicide (Milner, Page & Lamontagne, 2014).” Granjard A, Mihailovic M, Amato C, et al. Occupation and life satisfaction among individuals with mental illness: the mediation role of self-reported psychophysiological health. PeerJ. 2021;9:e10829. Published 2021 Jan 29. doi:10.7717/peerj.10829.

Note: This finding is important.  Mental health treatment and assessment of impairment during a pre-employment period is exacerbated by unemployment.  Thus, with no unemployment In combination with work, a Mentally Ill individual’s mental state may be significantly elevated prior to confronting work stress.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for over 28 years. Contact us today for more information.

MEN, DEPRESSION, SUICIDE, AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Stress impacts Men and Women differently.   Studies show there are differences in the workplace.  The findings are both significant and complicated.

This article will discuss depression, suicide, the differences between men and women, and the implications with respect to workers’ compensation cases.

What Is the Psychological Diagnosis of Depression?  

 Per the American Psychiatric Association, Depression (major depressive disorder) is an illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

”Depression symptoms can include: Feeling sad or having a depressed mood, Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting, Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, Loss of energy or increased fatigue, Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others), Feeling worthless or guilty, Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, Thoughts of death or suicide.” APA

A depression diagnosis requires these symptoms last for an extended period of time. “Symptoms must last at least two weeks and must represent a change in your previous level of functioning for a diagnosis of depression.” APA

Which Sex Is Diagnosed Most with Depression?

 Studies show that women are diagnosed at twice the rate as men. “[c]omparatively, in Western countries, men are formally diagnosed with depression at approximately half the rate of women” (Kessler et al., 2005Wilhelm, Parker, Geerligs, & Wedgwood, 2008).” 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

Note: These findings raise questions.  There is the issue of “men’s reluctance to express concerns about their mental health and reticence to seek professional health care (Emslie, Ridge, Ziebland, & Hunt, 2006Sharpe & Heppner, 1991Winkler et al., 2006).” 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

In other words, men may not seek mental health treatment. Thus, there would be fewer depression diagnosis for men.

Is There a Connection Between Depression and Suicide?

Severe depression can … significantly increase the risk for suicide.  (Emslie et al., 2006Kessler et al., 2005Wilhelm et al., 2008World Health Organization, n.d.), 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

Which Sex is at Most Risk of Suicide?

Men have been found to have higher rates of suicide. “[S]uicide rates are approximately four times higher in Western men than in women (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012Hawton & van Heeringen, 2009Levi et al., 2003Moller-Leimkuhler, 2003Rihmer, Belso, & Kiss, 2002Statistics Canada, 2012a2012bWasserman, 2000Wolfgang & Zoltan, 2007).” 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

Thus, there is the question as to why men’s suicide rates are higher when their depression rates are lower.

Are There Suicidal Issues Related to Occupation?

The issue of suicide has multiple issues.  There is suicidal thought or ideation.  There is the act of suicide.

Studies have found high suicide rates in male-dominated workgroups. This included manual workers, farming, military and nursing.” 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

Suicidal ideation is also an issue for men. Being a failed breadwinner can have an impact on suicidal thoughts. “Linkages between men’s work, depression, and suicide have also been described. Self-perceptions of being a “failed breadwinner” led older men with a history of depression to think about suicide (Oliffe, Han, Ogrodniczuk, Phillips, & Roy, 2011), whereas some middle-aged men countered suicidal ideations by focusing on work as a means of providing for their family (Oliffe, Ogrodniczuk, Bottorff, Johnson, & Hoyak, 2012. 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/1557988313490786

Is There a Connection Between Depression and Retirement?

Depressed workers are more likely to retire than nondepressed workers (Doshi, Cen, & Polsky, 2008) 1. Oliffe JL, Han CSE. Beyond Workers’ Compensation: Men’s Mental Health In and Out of Work. American Journal of Men’s Health. January 2014:45-53. doi:10.1177/155798831349078

What Does This Information Mean with Respect to Workers’ Compensation Claims?

These studies impact workers’ compensation cases in that they provide insight into the injured worker.

There studies show that there is some uniqueness for a man to file a claim for depression. These studies provide “red flags” as to certain occupations that men perform and their risk for suicide.  These studies may give some insight to employers as to whether depressed male  injured workers are going retire or return to work.  These studies show that working may assist a man’s mental state.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

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