The physical impacts of a work injury or road accident are readily observable and can usually be diagnosed and treated effectively. Psychological impacts on the other hand can go unrecognised and undiagnosed and can persist well beyond resolution of any physical injuries.
Changes in a person’s mental health are extremely common following a serious physical injury and can give rise to a variety of symptoms. A traumatic incident may result in post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or vivid nightmares or flashbacks. A significant change in physical capabilities may cause depression, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, fatigue and mood swings.
Like physical injuries, psychological conditions can be treated effectively, however it is important that you get medical treatment early. Treatment can greatly improve your quality of life and its important for you to be able to deal with and enjoy life after your accident.
In addition, speaking with a medical professional about your mental health early on may help you claim compensation for psychological injuries as well as any physical injuries. Medical records linking the onset of your mental health issues with the incident or the physical injuries that resulted from it can provide necessary evidence for such a claim.
If you are concerned about changes in your thoughts, emotions, appetite, concentration, sleep patterns, behaviours, relationships, enjoyment of life or other psychological symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.
A GP can assess your symptoms and provide advice on your treatment options which may include a referral to a specialised mental health practitioner such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your GP can continue to monitor your condition and evaluate the effectiveness of any treatment and make adjustments as required.
If you are diagnosed with a mental illness or condition you may be eligible for Medicare rebates on certain psychological health services under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan.
A mental health plan is a document prepared by your doctor that specifies:
It can also provide a referral to a mental health care provider such as a psychologist.
A mental health plan entitles you to get money back from Medicare for up to 10 individual or group appointments with a mental health service provider such as a psychologist, counsellor or social worker in one calendar year.
You can get a mental health plan, if you are diagnosed with a mental disorder and your doctor believes you may benefit from mental health care services.
Once you have received rebates for 10 sessions, you cannot receive any further rebates until the next calendar year. You can see your doctor about obtaining a new mental health plan in January for a further 10 sessions.
Until you get a new mental health plan, you can continue to see the psychologist, counsellor or social worker that you were referred to at your own cost.
Some private health insurance policies provide cover for psychological treatments and may provide a rebate.
If your psychological condition resulted from a workplace incident, car accident or otherwise as a result of someone else’s negligence you may have grounds to make a claim from WorkCover or another insurer for the costs of your treatment for psychological injuries.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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