The purpose of the workers’ compensation program is to provide financial assistance for the medical treatments you need as a result of your injury, as well as for daily expenses while you are out of work. Any type of injury you receive or disease you develop qualifies as long as it happened while doing your job and you were not intentionally trying to hurt yourself.
What about mental conditions that arise as a result of your employment? The answer depends on the circumstances of your case, as Ohio offers limited workers’ comp coverage for mental illnesses.
State law clarifies what counts as an injury. Mental health problems are only eligible if they are due to a physical injury or occupational disease. Pre-existing mental conditions are ineligible, as well as those not related to any physical condition.
For example, if you were to lose a limb and then suffer from depression over it, you may be able to make a claim. However, if you experience anxiety attacks due to high levels of work stress, you cannot file for workers’ compensation, because an injury or disease is not the cause of the attacks.
The problem with mental health claims is that they are hard to prove. Physical injuries bring concrete evidence and an identifiable timeline of events. Mental conditions take time to develop, and even then, they may pass under the radar if no provider watches for or catches the signs. It can also be difficult to show direct cause and effect.
Furthermore, due to the social stigma of battling mental illness, many people feel ashamed to bring up the topic with their loved ones and/or doctor. They may lack a support system or fear to lose their jobs from a diagnosis of a mental disease or disorder.
Monitor your mental health
As you recover from a work injury, take note of any changes to your mental health, and reach out if you start to notice signs of decline. It may bring you the additional financial support you need to make a full recovery.