This is a major concern for workers’ compensation insurers and employers as mental health is inextricably linked to the outcome of personal injury claims, especially when an injured worker is in chronic pain. If injured workers are not given adequate support to help them recover physically and mentally, their workers’ compensation claims can escalate dramatically.
“There is a strong correlation between chronic pain and mental health,” said Dr. Melissa Burke, Vice President, Head of Managed Care and Clinical, AmTrust Financial Services. “When we see a person suffering from chronic pain, the first thing we want to do is find out the root cause of the pain. When we can physically exclude [distress]it can be caused by anxiety, anxiety, or depression. We need to find out what is really behind the pain of an injured worker and how we can treat those symptoms to improve the overall outcome. “
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AmTrust has adopted the concept of holistic care and pain management. The insurer’s in-house nurse case managers are trained to work closely with injured workers to provide ongoing support, information and resources throughout their recovery. According to Burke, this is important so that injured workers know what to expect from their injury, understand how to manage their pain, and not remain isolated, seek outside help, or make their injury disastrous.
“The concept of staying connected became even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Burke told Insurance Business. “There are so many concerns, fears and unknowns associated with the pandemic, and when you add a work-related injury to it, people just need more support. We had to check in more to make sure people stay connected and to help prevent mental health issues like depression and anxiety due to their injuries. We were able to introduce additional services such as telemedicine, behavioral health, psychiatry, cognitive behavioral therapy support, and other coping mechanisms to provide a personalized path to recovery for every injured worker. “
Employers also help support injured workers and help them stay sane. You need to get rid of any remaining stigma surrounding the mental health issue and make it something that staff will be happy to discuss. You also need to keep in touch with their co-workers and encourage them to use mental health resources if they need help recovering from injury.
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“It’s about doing the right thing for the injured employee as a whole, because that leads to a better result,” emphasized Burke. “If we can treat an injured worker holistically and teach them the coping mechanisms to manage their pain instead of prescribing opioids, medical marijuana, or some other pain masking substance, they will have a better quality of life. That is our goal at AmTrust – to improve the quality of care and recovery – and that helps society as a whole.
“Things like opioids are inexpensive at the front end, but they cost more and affect an injured employee’s quality of life over time. It is so important to put more effort into explaining the value and need for pain management mechanisms and cognitive behavioral therapy beforehand as it will lead to a better outcome – both physical and psychological – with bodily harm claims. ”
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