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Column: Workers' Comp

Opinion | Depression and Hallucinogens: Cutting Workers’ Comp Costs as a Team

By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read
Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

Depression treatment possesses some quirky edges, such as a potential cure many in the workers’ compensation industry might find laughable.

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A recent book generating media buzz, along with internet postings, focuses on the potential for curing depression with hallucinogenic mushrooms, known as psilocybin mushrooms to scientists and “shrooms” to party goers. And a podcast called “The Hilarious World of Depression” attracted millions of downloads with comedians humorously and seriously reflecting on mental health.

Depression probably doesn’t leap into an employer’s mind when they consider exposures that are driving their workers’ comp losses. Car crashes, falls, machinery accidents, slips, and trips come to mind first.

But the WC industry is learning that psychosocial issues hamper the resolution of hard-to-manage, physical-injury claims that drag on while costs mount.

It stands to reason that reports showing that major depression is increasingly rampant among Americans could mean that the affliction will become a bigger drag on the long-term outlook for workers’ comp claims losses.

Maybe we’ll find salvation in a different kind of trip; by taking shrooms.

Curing depression with magic mushrooms will strike many as laughable. I’m okay with that because laughter, even if induced by a fungus, is a good antidote for depression.

So, of course, I think there is potential that more depression among Americans in general means eventually more workers’ comp losses. I know that’s a depressing thought for claims payors already feeling the weight of the world. Magic mushrooms, anyone?

Depression is a serious ailment that can be debilitating. It can trigger suicidal thoughts, outright suicide, and costs employers tens of billions of dollars in absences and lost productivity.

I’ve learned that exercise, music and socializing fend off the depression that occasionally visits me. For others, fending off depression may seem impossible.

Injured workers commonly develop signs of depression post injury. Financial stress, medication side effects and pain are some causes and often require prescription anti-depressants.

The depression connection is one reason why return-to-work programs are crucial. Being at work helps workers feel less isolated and provides the financial and mental rewards of remaining productive.

That’s all post injury, though. I’m wondering what happens when you have more Americans showing up for work, or newly entering the workforce, already prone to depression.

Research published in May by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. revealed that diagnosis of major depression rose 33 percent among commercially-insured Americans since 2013.

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The rate is rising even faster among millennials; up 47 percent. It’s also up 47 percent for adolescent boys and 65 percent for girls. Major depression now impacts more than 9 million commercially-insured Americans.

The report notes that 85 percent of people diagnosed with major depression also suffer one or more serious chronic health conditions, with nearly 30 percent suffering four or more additional health conditions.

Discussing depression in the context of workers’ comp scares claims payors who fear being on the hook for mental claims. But depression is already showing up in claims that drag on.

So, of course, I think there is potential that more depression among Americans in general means eventually more workers’ comp losses.

I know that’s a depressing thought for claims payors already feeling the weight of the world. Magic mushrooms, anyone? Or maybe just a good podcast will do it for you. &

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Risk Matrix: Presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance

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By: | July 30, 2018 • 2 min read
Topics: Workers' Comp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]