Psychological injury claims are on the rise, and we are seeing the impacts of psychological conditions on physical health.
Over the last decade, there has been a steady increase in psychological injury claims, making up approximately 11% of active NSW workers compensation claims, from 6% a decade ago, with those experiencing a psychological injury having lesser prospects for RTW.
Psychological injuries can have a significant impact on both workers and their Employer. They may be secondary to a physical injury, or may be primary conditions, but we do know that these claims tend to be more complex, and the claims experience can be adversarial. Injured workers may have delayed access to treatment and delayed recovery, slow and prolonged RTW, surrounded by increasing pressures driven by claim costs.
Psychological Claims & Physical Health
Photo by Keenan Constance on Unsplash
A significant focus for businesses over the last few years has been creating psychologically safe and mentally healthy workplaces. With an increased focus on mental health and wellbeing, businesses are more aware of strategies they can implement around prevention, intervention, and recovery.
- Education around mental health
- Implementation and enhancing policies and procedures
- Coaching for leaders, teams, individuals and at an organisational level
- Psychological risk assessment to identify and audit potential risks
- Focus groups/surveys to identify gaps and look for opportunities for improvements
- Ensuring recruits are both physically, but also psychologically fit for the role, particularly those with increased psychological demands
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Wellness Checks
- Manager support & Coaching
- Onsite Counselling
- Leadership Programs
- Conflict management, Independent Mediation and Group conflict resolutions
- Proactive Manager referrals (to EAP)
- Change Management support services
- HR/WHS advisory services
- Agile, holistic & coordinated recovery and RTW services
- Psychological assessments to identify flags & barriers
- Psychological treatment programs tailored to the workers needs
- RTW planning focused on restoring psychological function
- Clear and agreed goal setting around RTW
Whilst businesses aim to improve the health and wellbeing of their employees, and how they reduce risk of work-related mental health issues, it’s especially important to consider the needs of injured workers with a holistic approach. With a biopsychosocial approach to injury management, there is a greater understanding that each individuals experience and needs may be different.
So let’s look a little closer at the relationship between mental health and physical health, and why we need to consider the needs of injured workers as a whole.
Poor mental health can manifest into physical symptoms, and can result in behavioural and lifestyle changes impacting overall physical health. Some individuals may experience (to name just a few):
- Muscle tension
- Aches & pains
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or weight gain (including side effects from medication and changes in physical activity levels)
- Clenched jaw and teeth grinding
- Upset stomach
And vice versa, physical injury can also have an adverse impact on mental health.
How is mental health and physical health related?
- Poor mental health is known to impact recovery rates of a physical injury or illness
- The impact of a physical injury on a persons life may cause poor mental health
- Reduced mobility impacts ability to maintain social connections, personal interests and relationships
- Physical injuries can impair ability to work, sense of purpose and financial stability
- Injuries resulting in permanent restrictions can impair quality of life in the longer term
- Both physical and psychological injury may reduce physical activity, result in low energy & weight gain, reducing self-confidence and self-esteem
- Physical and psychological conditions can also escalate risk of other health conditions
You can see the negative cycle that both poor physical and psychological health together can have.
So it’s important to consider both the psychological and physical impacts for the best outcome. Physical health and mental health are interrelated, and to treat one area, you may need to consider the other.
How can we help?
If we can help improve physical health, this may contribute to improving mental health, and if mental health improves, individuals may be able to have a positive influence on their physical health.
Here at Precision Physio, we have seen the prevalence of psychological injury and poor mental health within our growing workers compensation portfolio. We know the positive contribution our Clinicians can have on both the mental and physical health of our clients with exercise being recognised as evidence-based treatment to improve overall health, which we also delve into in our blog Exercise and Your Mental Health. Our services can be an adjunct to other primary treatment modalities for psychological injuries, or for those primary physical injuries, there can be the added benefit of treatment and exercise on overall health and wellbeing. We offer:
- Tailored Early Intervention Programs
- Exercise prescription and intervention to establish an active-based routine
- Physical conditioning to maintain fitness for work and life demands
- Guidance and education to manage weight and encourage healthy habits
- A safe and supportive environment where we work closely with our clients to reach practical goals for their recovery/return to life in collaboration with their support team
At Precision Physio, we have Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists who understand the needs of our clients and businesses we extend services to. To learn more about our services and how we can work with you, call us today to schedule a discussion with our WC Business Development & Account Manager, Petrina Lobo:
- Precision Physio Concord: 02 9736 3950
- Precision Physio St Marys: 02 9623 2220
- Precision Physio Mt Druitt: 02 9188 2552
Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!
To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.