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Published May 31, 2021

The complicated nature of psychological injuries and resulting mental health challenges

May saw the annual “Mental Health Week” as promoted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). The tradition is intended to raise awareness about common mental health problems among Canadians. It also highlights those who are living with, or are severely impacted by mental illness. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many local lockdowns that ultimately complicated the already strained mental health of many Canadians. This included individuals recovering from serious personal injury. In many cases, personal injury includes far more than just physical recovery. It often comes with ‘invisible’ issues such as emotional trauma that is a result of a psychological injury.

Psychological injuries have often been highlighted by events like the CMHA Mental Health Week. However, these injuries require so much more exposure to be widely accepted by the general public. Psychological injuries or emotional trauma isn’t visible to the naked eye. Instead, they manifest as mental health issues including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders. Psychological injuries are often caused by catastrophic injuries like traumatic head injury and spinal cord injury. Ultimately, the truth is that psychological injuries can prevent an injured party from basic comfort and function on a day-to-day basis.

Defining psychological injuries and examining potential causes

A psychological injury is often defined as an event or series of events that resulted in an individual developing a mental health condition that prevented them from completing daily functions such as work. The specific mental health conditions are wide-ranging in nature. They include, but aren’t limited to PTSD, acute stress, phobias, neurocognitive issues, panic, pain, anxiety, and severe mood disorders.

Cycling accidents, car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, and ATV accidents can cause serious personal injuries such as a head or spinal cord injury that could result in psychological trauma. Family doctors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals are best placed to diagnose mental health conditions that have developed as a result of a psychological injury.

Psychological injuries: Physical and emotional symptoms

Generally speaking, individuals with psychological injuries usually experience feelings of anxiety, mood swings, hopelessness, general fear, and difficulty concentrating. Physical signs include severe insomnia, overall feelings of tiredness, agitation, stress, and full-body aches and pains. Often, experiencing a traumatic event such as a serious motor vehicle accident is the trigger for a psychological injury to take place.

Nevertheless, proving that a psychological injury has occurred is not a simple matter. However, it’s best examined in the case of Mustapha v. Culligan of Canada Ltd. in spring 2008. This case, in particular, explored psychological injuries along with the concept of duty of care in a worker-employer relationship. To summarize, the Supreme Court of Canada asserted this in regards to psychological injuries:

“The law does not recognize upset, disgust, anxiety, agitation, or other mental states that fall short of injury. I would not purport to define compensable injury exhaustively, except to say that it must be serious and prolonged and rise above the ordinary annoyances, anxieties, and fears that people living in society routinely, if sometimes reluctantly, accept.”

MG Law can help you with psychological injury claims

For injured parties that wish to make a claim regarding psychological injury or trauma, the process requires a multidisciplinary approach. Making the proper assertion that a psychological injury exists in one party requires the collaboration of mental health professionals including therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists.

MG Law maintains a vast database of mental health professionals that we liaise with to help make personal injury claims related to psychological injury. The long-lasting mental health challenges that result from psychological injuries can impact both you and your family for the rest of your life. Financially, the costs of addressing these mental health challenges could result in a lifelong commitment to emotional and neuropsychological therapy.

MG Law can help you fight for what is rightfully yours in the event of a psychological injury. Call us at (613) 730-8460 to discuss the intricacies of your case.

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