May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Movements like this have been instrumental in decreasing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and mental illnesses over the years.
And yet, mental health is often overlooked because these conditions are often invisible. They may not be taken as seriously as physical injuries, but workers in the healthcare field should ensure they pay careful attention to their mental health, so they can avoid an even more serious condition or injury – specifically post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Healthcare workers especially susceptible to PTSD
Healthcare workers at all levels face significant stress with each shift they work, and there is no questioning why nursing and healthcare jobs are some of the most stressful jobs. Workers in this field frequently deal with:
- Moral distress;
- Human suffering;
- Traumatic situations; and
- Violence and death.
Because of this, a 2019 study in The New York Times reported that one in four nurses suffer symptoms of PTSD. And the risk of PTSD in the healthcare field is only increasing with the current situation.
Does workers’ compensation cover PTSD?
PTSD is a very real risk for many workers on the job, but can healthcare workers recover workers’ compensation benefits?
Maryland law and precedent allow workers to recover compensation for PTSD if it resulted from the worker’s employment and necessitated a health care professional place limitations on the work or completely out of work.
Compensability is often very fact specific, whether a worker has one particularly traumatic experience or if it is cumulative in nature. Even though it is generally a compensable injury, many employer and their insurance carriers deny such claims. Workers should consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if they suffer PTSD related to their work, so they can recover the benefits they need.
What can healthcare workers do?
Healthcare workers must prioritize their mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Therefore, all healthcare workers should ensure that they:
- Address feelings of stress, anxiety and depression as soon as possible;
- Educate themselves about the symptoms of PTSD and related conditions; and
- Seek out mental health care services at work or outside of work, if necessary.
Most importantly, healthcare workers must ensure they find time to rest. Resting and taking measures to be mindful and calm can be incredibly helpful to help workers not only be aware of their mental health, but to take care of it as well.