By: Jarvis B. Läkemäker

Workplace crises management is as much about preparation and prevention than about the immediate reactive steps taken following a crisis. One of the areas where developing a crisis plan can be most beneficial is at the intersection of workers’ compensation and employee mental health.  

A 2012 study conducted by researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, examined whether injured workers were more likely than non-injured workers to be treated for depression after an occupational injury. They determined that within three months of an injury, the incidence of injured workers being treated for depression were 44% higher than for non-injured workers. These workers in turn are an especially vulnerable population when considering suicide risk. 

According to the recently published Suicide Prevention in the Workplace,[1] The demographic group with the highest suicide rate (19.72 per 100,000) is adults between 45 and 54 years of age, and most are employed at the time of death. As a complex health outcome, suicide is driven by multiple interacting risk and protective factors. Because environmental factors are critical in this mix, the workplace holds great potential for reducing suicide risk and preventing untimely loss of life to suicide.

Beyond the obvious harm to workforce morale, in Georgia, suicide does not automatically preclude recovery of workers’ compensation benefits. As such, employers and insurers have an additional incentive to implement policies that support mental health care for at risk populations and workplace crisis management programs to ensure that support is available to employees who have filed claims for workers’ compensation.

Atkins David can work with your company to develop a workplace crisis management plan that properly addresses mental health support and suicide prevention as well as postvention best practices.

Resources:

Preventing Suicide: A Resource At Work – World Health Organization  

Postvention Guidelines – Riverside Trauma Center

Recommendations for Improving Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Care – American Psychiatric Association


[1] Mortali M.G., Moutier C. (2019) Suicide Prevention in the Workplace. In: Riba M., Parikh S., Greden J. (eds) Mental Health in the Workplace. Integrating Psychiatry and Primary Care. Springer, Cham