Mental health issues prominent among injured workers

News Feb 28, 2017 by Colleen Toms Brant News

There are times when Wes Mahoney feels invisible.

Mahoney is an injured worker and after years of being employed as a highrise window cleaner and providing for his family, he now relies on the food bank to help put meals on the table.

Mahoney shattered his foot after falling three storeys while on the job and underwent four orthopedic surgeries.

Ongoing disputes with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for compensation and constant pain have left Mahoney depressed and anxious. His friends don’t visit anymore, he is constantly criticized for not working and he often sits home alone, in isolation, trying to come to grips with what has become of his life.

“You’re always in pain so nobody wants to be around you,” Mahoney said. “It’s like you just lose contact with everybody and all of a sudden your anxiety goes through the roof when you are around a crowd of people.

“It’s the first time ever in my life that I had to go on welfare. It was like a kick in the teeth. I always took pride that I had never been out of work.”

Trent University professor Fergal O’Hagan told people attending a Brantford Injured Workers’ Group community meeting last Thursday that Mahoney is not alone in his despair.

Presenting findings of a 2008 phone survey conducted with 494 injured workers, O’Hagan said that there was a clear relationship between the stigma injured workers face and mental health problems.

“The data suggests that mental health problems are very prevalent in injured workers,” O’Hagan said. “Upwards of one-quarter of injured workers can have high depressive symptoms at six months (of being injured.)”

The problem, he added, is that many go undiagnosed and as mental health symptoms worsen, it often impacts the family unit as a whole.

“If you have a mental health problem and it’s not identified, then there is no way that you can get help through the system,” O’Hagan said. “The formal diagnosis is an important recognition that is a gateway to supports.”

Stigma is very common among injured workers and can help lead to mental health issues.

“Within compensation systems people feel alienated, there’s a sense of fear, of benefit cuts, that impose a different demand on injured workers than would occur just in the population of people hurt otherwise,” O’Hagan said. “The adversarial nature of the system contributes to that.

“Injured workers commonly experience the feeling of being set apart from other people in society.”

Mahoney’s wife Kim Prince has been lobbying on behalf of her husband and all injured workers in Brant. She was instrumental in forming the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group to help people access the resources they need and give them a voice.

“It’s for peer support, for education and just for allowing other injured workers to find out, ‘Hey, WSIB isn’t just doing this to me, they’re doing this to other people.’ To understand that the poverty that injured workers’ land in, it’s not their fault,” Prince said.

“(The group is) about coming together and supporting each other and then educating people so that they know how to fight the system, because it’s something we were never taught. We always believe that WSIB is there as a safety net and then when you need it, that net isn’t so safe.”

The Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups, Injured Workers Consultants and the IAVGO Community Legal Clinic supported the community meeting. For more information, connect with the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group on Facebook, online at injuredworkersonline.org or email injuredworker.family.brantford@gmail.com.

 


Mental health issues prominent among injured workers

Brantford group gives injured workers a voice

News Feb 28, 2017 by Colleen Toms Brant News

There are times when Wes Mahoney feels invisible.

Mahoney is an injured worker and after years of being employed as a highrise window cleaner and providing for his family, he now relies on the food bank to help put meals on the table.

Mahoney shattered his foot after falling three storeys while on the job and underwent four orthopedic surgeries.

Ongoing disputes with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for compensation and constant pain have left Mahoney depressed and anxious. His friends don’t visit anymore, he is constantly criticized for not working and he often sits home alone, in isolation, trying to come to grips with what has become of his life.

“You’re always in pain so nobody wants to be around you,” Mahoney said. “It’s like you just lose contact with everybody and all of a sudden your anxiety goes through the roof when you are around a crowd of people.

“It’s the first time ever in my life that I had to go on welfare. It was like a kick in the teeth. I always took pride that I had never been out of work.”

Trent University professor Fergal O’Hagan told people attending a Brantford Injured Workers’ Group community meeting last Thursday that Mahoney is not alone in his despair.

Presenting findings of a 2008 phone survey conducted with 494 injured workers, O’Hagan said that there was a clear relationship between the stigma injured workers face and mental health problems.

“The data suggests that mental health problems are very prevalent in injured workers,” O’Hagan said. “Upwards of one-quarter of injured workers can have high depressive symptoms at six months (of being injured.)”

The problem, he added, is that many go undiagnosed and as mental health symptoms worsen, it often impacts the family unit as a whole.

“If you have a mental health problem and it’s not identified, then there is no way that you can get help through the system,” O’Hagan said. “The formal diagnosis is an important recognition that is a gateway to supports.”

Stigma is very common among injured workers and can help lead to mental health issues.

“Within compensation systems people feel alienated, there’s a sense of fear, of benefit cuts, that impose a different demand on injured workers than would occur just in the population of people hurt otherwise,” O’Hagan said. “The adversarial nature of the system contributes to that.

“Injured workers commonly experience the feeling of being set apart from other people in society.”

Mahoney’s wife Kim Prince has been lobbying on behalf of her husband and all injured workers in Brant. She was instrumental in forming the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group to help people access the resources they need and give them a voice.

“It’s for peer support, for education and just for allowing other injured workers to find out, ‘Hey, WSIB isn’t just doing this to me, they’re doing this to other people.’ To understand that the poverty that injured workers’ land in, it’s not their fault,” Prince said.

“(The group is) about coming together and supporting each other and then educating people so that they know how to fight the system, because it’s something we were never taught. We always believe that WSIB is there as a safety net and then when you need it, that net isn’t so safe.”

The Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups, Injured Workers Consultants and the IAVGO Community Legal Clinic supported the community meeting. For more information, connect with the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group on Facebook, online at injuredworkersonline.org or email injuredworker.family.brantford@gmail.com.

 


Mental health issues prominent among injured workers

Brantford group gives injured workers a voice

News Feb 28, 2017 by Colleen Toms Brant News

There are times when Wes Mahoney feels invisible.

Mahoney is an injured worker and after years of being employed as a highrise window cleaner and providing for his family, he now relies on the food bank to help put meals on the table.

Mahoney shattered his foot after falling three storeys while on the job and underwent four orthopedic surgeries.

Ongoing disputes with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for compensation and constant pain have left Mahoney depressed and anxious. His friends don’t visit anymore, he is constantly criticized for not working and he often sits home alone, in isolation, trying to come to grips with what has become of his life.

“You’re always in pain so nobody wants to be around you,” Mahoney said. “It’s like you just lose contact with everybody and all of a sudden your anxiety goes through the roof when you are around a crowd of people.

“It’s the first time ever in my life that I had to go on welfare. It was like a kick in the teeth. I always took pride that I had never been out of work.”

Trent University professor Fergal O’Hagan told people attending a Brantford Injured Workers’ Group community meeting last Thursday that Mahoney is not alone in his despair.

Presenting findings of a 2008 phone survey conducted with 494 injured workers, O’Hagan said that there was a clear relationship between the stigma injured workers face and mental health problems.

“The data suggests that mental health problems are very prevalent in injured workers,” O’Hagan said. “Upwards of one-quarter of injured workers can have high depressive symptoms at six months (of being injured.)”

The problem, he added, is that many go undiagnosed and as mental health symptoms worsen, it often impacts the family unit as a whole.

“If you have a mental health problem and it’s not identified, then there is no way that you can get help through the system,” O’Hagan said. “The formal diagnosis is an important recognition that is a gateway to supports.”

Stigma is very common among injured workers and can help lead to mental health issues.

“Within compensation systems people feel alienated, there’s a sense of fear, of benefit cuts, that impose a different demand on injured workers than would occur just in the population of people hurt otherwise,” O’Hagan said. “The adversarial nature of the system contributes to that.

“Injured workers commonly experience the feeling of being set apart from other people in society.”

Mahoney’s wife Kim Prince has been lobbying on behalf of her husband and all injured workers in Brant. She was instrumental in forming the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group to help people access the resources they need and give them a voice.

“It’s for peer support, for education and just for allowing other injured workers to find out, ‘Hey, WSIB isn’t just doing this to me, they’re doing this to other people.’ To understand that the poverty that injured workers’ land in, it’s not their fault,” Prince said.

“(The group is) about coming together and supporting each other and then educating people so that they know how to fight the system, because it’s something we were never taught. We always believe that WSIB is there as a safety net and then when you need it, that net isn’t so safe.”

The Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups, Injured Workers Consultants and the IAVGO Community Legal Clinic supported the community meeting. For more information, connect with the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group on Facebook, online at injuredworkersonline.org or email injuredworker.family.brantford@gmail.com.