Secondary psychological injuries

Secondary psychological injuries in workers compensation refer to mental health conditions that develop as a result of the initial work-related physical injury or illness.

Secondary psychological injuries can include conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which have both physical and psychological components. These types of injuries can have a significant impact on an individual's ability to return to work and can be difficult to diagnose and treat.

They are often considered to be a "secondary" injury because they are not the result of the initial accident or illness but are a consequence of it.

Secondary psychological injuries can be caused by an individual's reaction to a primary event or injury. They can stem from an individual's attempts to cope with a primary injury or event and can develop during the process of recovery and rehabilitation.

Secondary psychological injuries can manifest in various ways, such as mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression, substance abuse problems or other harmful behaviours, but are usually treatable with adequate support and interventions.

How is secondary psychological injury handled in workers compensation?

Before any benefits can be accessed for a secondary psychological injury, it must first be an accepted component of the initial claim. This means the case manager will need to be supplied with sufficient information to make a liability decision to accept or decline the new injury/diagnosis.

This information can come from a variety of sources:

  • added as a new diagnosis to a worker's Certificate of Capacity by their nominated treating doctor (NTD)
  • a letter or report from the NTD
  • a letter or report from a psychologist or psychiatrist who has examined and treated the worker.
  • independent medical examination by a psychiatrist.

Independent Medical Examination may be required

Secondary psychological injuries can often occur as the aggravation of pre-existing conditions or may be new diagnosis for the injured person.

For these reasons, Claims Service Providers will often ask a worker to undergo an Independent Medical Examination so they can better understand the condition and how it relates to the primary injury, before making a liability decision.

Treatments for mental health conditions

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