Supporting injured employees’ mental and emotional health

When we think about work injuries, it’s natural to focus on the physical impact to the employee. But an employee’s mental and emotional health can also suffer due to life changes surrounding the injury.

Employees who are off work due to their injuries may feel worthless or lonely. They may be unable to do activities they used to enjoy such as sports or playing with kids. They may not be able to do their usual household work, causing family relationships to suffer.

As an employer, you can play an important role in helping an injured worker maintain their mental health. Read on to learn how.

Show care and concern

One basic and important thing employers can do for injured workers is to show care and concern for their health and well-being. This can come in the form of sending notes, text messages, emails, or even flowers to let them know you’re concerned about their health and wish them a full and speedy recovery. If they’re off work due to their injury, check in often so they know they are not forgotten and that you’re looking forward to having them back. Look for opportunities to help them maintain their social connections with coworkers. Injured workers may be nervous that they will be replaced, and won’t have a job to return to, so it helps to reassure them that this is not the case.

Point to support resources

Sometimes the mental health challenges workers are facing may require the help of a trained professional.

Knowing this, you can make your employees aware of any resources your company offers, such as a wellness program, health insurance benefits or an employee assistance program (EAP).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls employee assistance programs one of the most effective ways to support employees with depression or other mental health problems. Employee assistance programs also offer managers’ assistance lines, which leaders and supervisors can access for guidance when one of their employees is experiencing difficulties.

Support return-to-work

Bringing employees back to work as soon as their doctor will allow it demonstrates your commitment to them and their recovery. It helps alleviate worries about losing their job and gives them a way to feel productive and connected.

This may require providing light-duty work to accommodate medical restrictions. Be sure that supervisors are aware the returning employee will have limitations, so they are welcoming and understanding toward the worker.

Emphasize positive relationships with employees

At all times, regardless of whether an employee is injured, provide a work environment where employees feel valued by their supervisors and the company. Place an emphasis on positive work relationships.

In the event of an injury, the employee will be less likely to worry, and more motivated to return to work.

In the rush of covering for an injured employee, it can be easy to lose sight of the employee’s needs. But taking even a little time to reach out and offer support can make a big difference in your employee’s mental health and recovery.

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