Assistance program offers holistic help for injured workers

What if one of your employees fell at work and suffered a concussion?

You would expect the costs of her medical care and lost wages to be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

But what if she was also dealing with a struggling teenager? Or her inability to do her regular household tasks was straining her relationship with her spouse? Or grief from the loss of a loved one was delaying her return to work?

These are the struggles of everyday life that workers’ compensation benefits can’t account for, and yet they can have a major effect on an employee’s recovery and return to work.

Seeing this unmet need, SFM has introduced a new service for injured workers that provides additional support and help.

Counseling and other assistance available

The Injured Worker and Family Assistance Program generally provides the same services as a traditional employee assistance program (EAP).

It’s available to injured workers, as well as their household members and dependents.

Benefits available to them include:

  • Up to three sessions of counseling per issue per year
  • Help with weight loss or smoking cessation
  • Assistance finding child care
  • Help with housing needs
  • Financial consultation
  • Self-paced online programs to address depression, anxiety and other issues

We offer these services through Magellan Healthcare, a national provider of employee assistance programs. Any personal information employees share through the service is kept confidential, and SFM receives no identifiable information about who uses the service.

To connect with services, employees can:

Information about the program is included in the packets injured workers receive by mail shortly after their claim is accepted by SFM.

How the program can help

The idea for the Injured Worker and Family Assistance Program came from SFM’s claims representatives.

Some of the key areas in which claims representatives believe the Injured Worker and Family Assistance Program will help include:

  • Mental health
    A Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study showed that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. had a mental illness in the past year. In the context of work
    injuries, this means that it’s not uncommon for an injured worker to have a pre-existing mental health condition like depression or anxiety. This can have a major effect on the individual’s ability to recover physically and mentally after an injury. If the work injury clearly caused or exacerbated a mental health condition, then it would be paid for under the workers’ compensation claim, but this may not be the case. The assistance program gives injured workers easy access to mental health counseling, or online programs for dealing with depression, anxiety and other common issues, regardless of what caused the need for treatment.
  • Relationship problems
    Injured workers may also be dealing with stress in personal and professional relationships. When employees are off work, they may feel their relationship with their employer is strained because they are not communicating as much. Even after they’ve returned to work, sometimes they feel they’re being treated differently by their supervisors or coworkers because they have work restrictions. At home, their spouse or other household members might have to take over responsibilities, changing the dynamics in the relationship. These types of issues cause additional stress and can sometimes delay return to work. The assistance program gives employees someone to talk with who can help them process and work through issues.
  • Everyday stressors
    In some cases, an injured worker might have been taking care of a child or elderly family member while off work, and must find care to be able to start working again. Or maybe they are just overwhelmed with the paperwork, doctor visits and other aspects of the workers’ compensation claim process. When someone is already facing increased stress, obstacles like these can seem insurmountable. This program offers assistance finding child and elder care, and can offer strategies to manage stress.
  • Physical wellness
    Health issues like smoking and obesity can extend and complicate the employee’s recovery period. The assistance program offers resources to injured workers who want to take the opportunity during their recovery to stop smoking, improve their nutrition or establish other healthy habits.
  • Help for family members
    In the case of a serious injury, a spouse or other family member might need someone to talk with. They may be overwhelmed and facing anxiety over an uncertain future. The assistance program allows them to access counselors who can provide support and reassurance.
  • Financial strains
    While workers’ compensation benefits help make up for lost wages, injured workers might still face financial setbacks due to their injuries. Maybe they were even struggling financially before they were injured. Maybe they previously worked overtime when they needed extra money, and now that isn’t an option. Maybe they used to earn more than the state limits on wage replacement benefits, and now must cut back. Through the assistance program, injured workers can receive a financial consultation and other budgeting resources.

These are just a sampling of the many issues the assistance program can help with. The moment injured workers call or use the live chat, they’ll be connected with a professional who can help them get the resources they need.

We’re glad to be able to offer another tool to help injured workers thrive as they recover. See the Injured Worker and Family Assistance Program page for more details. A handout for injured workers explaining the program is available in the resource catalog.

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