When we think of work injuries, we are most likely to picture physical afflictions such as cuts, bruises, or broken bones, caused by using faulty work tools or hazardous working environments. However, psychological injuries occur with high frequency in work environments too, with 600,000 workers in the UK suffering from work-related stress and anxiety in 2018/19. With 12.8 million working days lost due to psychological injury, this is a significant issue for both employers and employees.
If you’ve experienced a psychological injury at work, it’s important to understand your rights and what steps you can take to seek compensation.
A work-related psychological injury is any injury to your mental health that is caused by your work or work environment. This can include conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and burnout. Psychological injuries can be caused by a variety of workplace factors, including bullying, harassment, high workloads, and exposure to traumatic events.
What are the common causes of psychological injuries in the workplace?
As mentioned, psychological injuries can be caused by a variety of workplace factors. Some of the most common causes include:
- Bullying and harassment. If you’re experiencing bullying or harassment at work, this can have a significant impact on your mental health. It can make you feel anxious, depressed, and stressed, and can lead to conditions such as PTSD.
- High workloads. If you’re constantly working long hours or have a heavy workload, this can also impact your mental health. It can cause you to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and it can often lead to burnout.
- Traumatic events. If you work in an industry where you’re exposed to traumatic events, such as emergency services or healthcare, this can also cause psychological injuries. Witnessing or experiencing traumatic events can lead to PTSD or other mental health conditions.
- Poor management. Poor management can also contribute to psychological injuries. If your manager is constantly criticising you or micromanaging your work, this can impact your self-esteem and lead to anxiety and depression.
How do I prove that my employer caused my psychological injury?
Proving that your employer caused your psychological injury can be challenging. Unlike physical injuries, psychological injuries are not always visible and can be difficult to diagnose. However, there are some steps you can take to help build your case:
- Seek medical help. The first step in proving that your employer caused your psychological injury is to seek medical help. A mental health professional can diagnose your condition and provide evidence that your work or work environment caused your injury.
- Document everything. It’s important to keep a record of everything that has happened to you at work. This includes any incidents of bullying or harassment, conversations with your manager, and any other relevant information.
- Talk to a lawyer. A lawyer who specialises in workplace injuries can help you understand your rights and advise you on the best course of action. They can also help you build your case and negotiate with your employer on your behalf.
How difficult is it to bring a compensation claim against an employer?
Bringing a compensation claim against your employer for a psychological injury can be extremely challenging, but it’s not impossible. Make sure you read up on guidance around bringing a psychiatric injury claim. Also be sure to seek legal advice from qualified experts in workplace law, as this will ensure that you have the best chance of success.
What sort of compensation can I claim for my psychological injury?
The compensation you can claim for a psychological injury will depend on the severity of your condition and how it has impacted your life. Some of the things you may be able to claim for include:
- Your medical expenses. This can include the cost of therapy, medication, and other medical treatments related to your injury.
- Any lost income. If your injury has prevented you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages or a reduction in earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering. You may be able to claim compensation for the pain and suffering you have experienced because of the injury.
- Rehabilitation and support. If your injury requires ongoing treatment or rehabilitation, you may be able to claim compensation for these costs. You may also be entitled to support services such as counselling or vocational training.
Should I hire a lawyer to help me bring a psychological injury case?
If you’re considering bringing a compensation claim for a psychological injury, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice. A lawyer who specialises in workplace injuries can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process. They can also help you build a strong case and negotiate with your employer on your behalf.
Technically, it is possible to bring a case without a lawyer, however, it’s generally not recommended. As the process can be very complex, having a lawyer on your side will improve your chances of success. A lawyer can help you gather evidence, navigate legal procedures, and advocate for your rights. They can also help you understand the compensation that you may be entitled to. In a nutshell, they will help ensure that you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.
In conclusion, experiencing a psychological injury at work can be devastating and may have a long-term impact on your life and general well-being. To seek compensation for your injuries, it’s important to know your rights, seek medical help, document everything, and consider seeking legal advice. While bringing a compensation claim can be difficult, with the right support, you can achieve a fair outcome and move forward with your life.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.