Making mental health a priority

Mental health charities have been inundated with calls during the Coronavirus pandemic and the number of people requiring help has increased by 50%.

Mental Health Awareness week, which took place last week, aimed to highlight some of the issues people are facing and provided information about the type of support available.

According the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point. While mental health problems are common, most are mild, tend to be short-term and are normally successfully treated, with medication, by a GP.

The current pandemic has triggered a range of complex problems, however prior to the pandemic, around one in three adults in England had experienced at least one traumatic event leading to psychological trauma.

Traumatic events

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Traumatic events can be defined as experiences that put either a person or someone close to them at risk of serious harm or death. These can include:

  • Road accidents
  • Violence/prolonged abuse
  • Natural disasters
  • Serious illnesses

Directly after the event people may also experience shock and denial. This can give way over several hours or days to a range of other feelings such as sadness, anger, and guilt. Many people feel better and recover gradually.

However, if these feelings persist, they can lead to more serious mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.”

Work-related stress

Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems and can be caused not only by witnessing a traumatic event, but also through work-related stress.

The HSE has produced a guide to coping with work-related stress. It states: “Work can also aggravate pre-existing conditions, and problems at work can bring on symptoms or make their effects worse.

Whether work is causing the health issue or aggravating it, employers have a legal responsibility to help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must be assessed to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a risk is identified, steps must be taken to remove it or reduce it as far as reasonably practicable.

Some employees will have a pre-existing physical or mental health condition when recruited or may develop one caused by factors that are not work-related factors.

Their employers may have further legal requirements, to make reasonable adjustments under equalities legislation. Information about employing people with a disability can be found on GOV.UK or from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in England, Scotland and Wales.”

Work-related stress or an accident in the workplace or other setting can contribute to a range of mental health issues.

It is common to suffer psychological side effects or psychiatric injuries after a traumatic experience. These may include nightmares or flashbacks or an unwillingness to put yourself in a similar situation to the accident. Occasionally the effects can be more debilitating preventing the injured person from doing the things they would once have done prior to the accident.

Young minds

Children can also be affected by psychological trauma. The charity, Young Minds, in conjunction with the Anna Freud Centre and Body & Soul has produced a guide on childhood adversity and trauma.

Emma Colyer MBE, director of Body & Soul, said: “The impact from experiencing trauma and adversity in childhood is stored within our mind, body and soul and can last a lifetime. Sadly, those living with childhood trauma often live with illness, some die 20 years earlier than their peers, and yet this does not have to be the case.

“By understanding people’s behaviour and the challenges they face, we can disrupt this cycle of suffering and transform the impact of their trauma for people of all ages. It does not have to be a life-sentence. Trauma-informed approaches help us to do that by underpinning care with kindness, compassion, curiosity and understanding. It saves lives. These approaches must be embedded in our systems and services throughout society to ensure that no-ones’ life chances are reduced by the experiences of their past.”

Compensation

Compensation is available for psychological injuries and rehabilitation for conditions such as anxiety, adjustment disorders, depressive disorders, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). If liability is admitted the third-party insurer will often fund the treatment.

Often clients have no alternative but to obtain the treatment privately as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) is rarely available on the NHS due to the lack of resource and associated costs.

In our experience, if treatment is available on the NHS, the waiting lists are so lengthy that by the time treatment takes place symptoms have either subsided, taking much longer to resolve than if treatment had been received earlier, or at the other end of the spectrum the symptoms have become chronic and potentially permanent. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential.

If you are entitled to compensation for your psychological injuries, NV Legal is an expert in psychological and psychiatric injuries and we offer a free initial consultation. We only take on cases which we believe will be successful and work on a no-win no-fee basis.

The Judicial College produces guidelines for the assessment of general damages in personal injury cases. The latest 14th edition outlines possible compensation figures for PTSD. The guide states:

“(a)        Severe  £52,490 to £88,270

Such cases will involve permanent effects which prevent the injured person from working at all or at least from functioning at anything approaching the pre-trauma level. All aspects of the life of the injured person will be badly affected.

(b)          Moderately Severe         £20,290 to £52,490

This category is distinct from (a) above because of the better prognosis which will be for some recovery with professional help. However, the effects are still likely to cause significant disability for the foreseeable future. While there are awards which support both extremes of this bracket, the majority are between £22,930 and £29,590 (£25,220 and £32,550 accounting for 10% uplift).

(c)           Moderate           £7,170 to £20,290

In these cases, the injured person will have largely recovered and any continuing effects will not be grossly disabling.

(d)          Less Severe        £3,460 to £7,170

In these cases, a virtually full recovery will have been made within one to two years and only minor symptoms will persist over any longer period.”

USEFUL LINKS:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/the-impact-of-traumatic-events-on-mental-health.pdf

 

https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mental-health.htm

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/617321/nhs_trauma_leaflet.pdf

 

https://www.mind.org.uk/

 

https://youngminds.org.uk/