Workplace injuries can have profound effects on an individual’s mental health, often leading to a range of emotional and psychological challenges. In the time following an accident, workers may not initially understand how extreme some of these changes may be.
There were 2,607,900 nonfatal American workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Considering the large amount of people suffering from this very problem, knowing how a person’s mental health can deteriorate during this time is important.
Shock and denial
When a workplace injury occurs, the immediate response for many is shock and denial. This event, often unexpected, can shatter one’s sense of safety and stability. Employees might find it difficult to accept that they are dealing with a serious injury, which can create feelings of disbelief and emotional numbness.
Anxiety and fear
As the reality of the injury sets in, anxiety and fear can become overwhelming. Concerns about the extent of the injury, potential disabilities and the impact on their job security can lead to heightened stress levels. These persistent worries can interfere with daily life and disrupt sleep patterns.
Depression and isolation
Workplace injuries can trigger depression due to the sudden loss of productivity and sense of purpose. Injured employees may feel isolated as they are unable to participate in regular workplace activities and social interactions. This isolation can exacerbate feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Anger and frustration
Coping with a workplace injury often involves dealing with anger and frustration. People may direct these emotions toward their employer, coworkers or even themselves. The sense of injustice or the belief that they could have prevented the injury can fuel these intense feelings.
Guilt and self-blame
Individuals who experience workplace injuries may grapple with guilt and self-blame. They might question their actions leading up to the injury or feel responsible for the impact it has on their colleagues and employers. These feelings can erode self-esteem and self-worth.
Post-traumatic stress symptoms
In severe cases, workplace injuries can lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms. Flashbacks, nightmares and heightened anxiety related to the incident can persist long after the physical injuries have healed. These symptoms can be debilitating and require professional intervention.
It is important for individuals dealing with workplace injuries to seek support, both from medical professionals and mental health experts. Early intervention can help mitigate the long-term effects of a work injury on mental health.