When you think of an employee dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the first occupations that often come to mind are EMT, police officer or firefighter. Trauma, however, can occur in any occupation. It was that realization that led to a newly expanded bill to protect many Colorado workers.
In April of 2017, Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, signed a bill that would allow first responders to file workers' compensation claims for PTSD. In 2018, Colorado expanded the bill to include any worker who suffers PTSD as the result of a traumatic event while on the job.
What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
When someone experiences a traumatic event, it can cause intense physical and emotional distress. When those feelings follow a person in the coming days, weeks, months or even years, and impact their ability to function, that person may have post-traumatic stress disorder.
The symptoms of PTSD include:
- Intrusive memories
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
- Changes in physical and emotional reactions
- Intensity of symptoms
If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that they find medical support. People come to work with their own unique backgrounds, and judgement about someone's reaction to a tragic event should not come from anyone outside of the medical/mental health profession.
How can this new law help those suffering?
For Colorado workers in any profession who feel they might be struggling with work-related PTSD, it is important to consult someone with legal experience. Although Colorado expanded the law to include more professions, not everyone is eligible.
Those with approved workers' compensation claims will be eligible for medical care and psychological counseling and partial wage replacement benefits. Depending on the circumstances, temporary or permanent disability benefits may also be awarded.