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Mental Injuries in the Workplace Explored at Idaho Industrial Commission Annual Seminar on Workers’ Compensation

31 May, 2023 Claire Muselman

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Boise, ID -- On May 25, 2023, mental injuries in the workplace took center stage at the highly anticipated Idaho Industrial Commission Annual Seminar on Workers' Compensation. Attendees gathered in Boise, Idaho, to gain insights into this pressing issue and learn how the fields of psychology and neuropsychology can contribute to the safe and successful return of employees who have experienced such injuries. Led by distinguished speaker Sarah DeBoard Marion, PhD, the session provided valuable information on various types of treatments recommended for individuals dealing with mental injuries in the workplace. Dr. Marion also shed light on the role of neuropsychology in issues of compensability, offering a comprehensive and enlightening exploration of the topic.

Dr. Sarah DeBoard Marion, a clinical neuropsychologist with extensive experience in worker's compensation cases, captivated the audience with her expertise and deep understanding of the subject matter. With a rich background in clinical psychology and neuropsychology, Dr. Marion has dedicated her career to providing comprehensive mental and behavioral health care to individuals, couples, families, and groups. Her extensive knowledge and practical experience make her a trusted authority on the topic.

Drawing a clear distinction between psychology and other mental health disciplines, Dr. Marion emphasized the unique role played by clinical psychology and neuropsychology in addressing mental injuries in the workplace. While licensed clinical social workers, licensed clinical professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists may share certain areas of overlap, clinical psychology and neuropsychology offer a breadth of knowledge and skills that set them apart. Dr. Marion highlighted key factors, such as years of training, research focus, and the level of assessment involved in the diagnosis process, that make these fields distinct and valuable in the context of mental injuries in the workplace.

As the session unfolded, Dr. Marion shared her experiences and insights gained from her work at St. Alphonsus Rehabilitation Services (STARS) and her current position at St. Luke's. Through her work with individuals who have experienced brain injuries, she discovered a significant correlation between such injuries and psychological distress. Dr. Marion explained that individuals may face distress not only due to the physical injury itself but also as a result of reactions to wage reduction, changes in routines and patterns, and interpersonal conflicts with employers stemming from changes in their status. This holistic understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with mental injuries in the workplace underscores the importance of addressing psychological aspects alongside the physical injuries to facilitate comprehensive recovery.

Dr. Marion also emphasized the power of collaboration between neuropsychologists and rehabilitation psychologists in providing integrated care for individuals in the worker's compensation system. By working together, these professionals can conduct thorough evaluations, provide appropriate treatment recommendations, and offer holistic support to individuals on their journey towards recovery. Dr. Marion shared her experiences collaborating with rehabilitation psychologists, such as Molly Brady, PsyD, and Laura Burlingame-Lee, Ph.D., to deliver integrated care to individuals in the worker's compensation system. This collaborative approach ensures that both the psychological and neurological aspects of an individual's condition are effectively addressed, leading to better outcomes.

In exploring assessment and treatment options, Dr. Marion shed light on the significance of neuropsychological evaluations in understanding the impact of neurological injuries on cognitive functioning. These evaluations involve comprehensive clinical interviews, psychometric testing, and the integration of relevant data to provide a comprehensive understanding of the individual's condition. By conducting these evaluations, healthcare professionals can determine the extent of cognitive impairment and develop appropriate treatment plans tailored to the individual's needs.

Psychological evaluations, focusing on co-morbid psychological injuries related to physical injuries, were also discussed. Dr. Marion emphasized the importance of accurately assessing and addressing these psychological conditions to ensure a comprehensive approach to recovery. Through a combination of neuropsychological and psychological evaluations, healthcare professionals can gain a comprehensive understanding of the individual's condition and develop targeted treatment plans.

Dr. Marion highlighted the significance of management strategies and psychoeducation in the treatment process. By validating symptoms, providing accurate diagnoses, and explaining the impact of work-related injuries on mental health, healthcare professionals can help individuals understand and manage their distress effectively. Additionally, strategies such as brain breaks, positive self-talk, and referrals to specialized care can contribute to the overall recovery process.

The session concluded on an encouraging note, underscoring the positive correlation between returning to work and improved physical and mental health. Dr. Marion cited a systematic review conducted by Sergio Rueda et al. in 2012, which demonstrated that returning to work after a work injury has a positive effect on individuals' overall well-being. In turn, better mental health is linked to higher work engagement, creating a positive cycle of well-being and productivity. This insight highlights the importance of promoting a safe and supportive work environment that fosters the successful return of employees after mental injuries.

The Idaho Industrial Commission Annual Seminar on Workers' Compensation provided an invaluable platform for exploring the critical topic of mental injuries in the workplace. Dr. Sarah DeBoard Marion's session brought much-needed attention to the role of psychology and neuropsychology in facilitating the safe and successful return of employees. By emphasizing evidence-based treatments, interdisciplinary collaboration, and a holistic approach to recovery, Dr. Marion's session served as a guide for attendees to navigate the complexities of mental injuries in the workplace.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is based on the experience and expertise of Dr. Sarah DeBoard Marion as a clinical neuropsychologist. The article does not constitute legal or medical advice, and readers are encouraged to consult professionals for specific cases.


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    About The Author

    • Claire Muselman

      Meet Dr. Claire C. Muselman, the Chief Operating Officer at WorkersCompensation.com, where she blends her vast academic insight and professional innovation with a uniquely positive energy. As the President of DCM, Dr. Muselman is renowned for her dynamic approach that reshapes and energizes the workers' compensation industry. Dr. Muselman's academic credentials are as remarkable as her professional achievements. Holding a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, she specializes in employee engagement, human behavior, and the science of leadership. Her diverse background in educational leadership, public policy, political science, and dance epitomizes a multifaceted approach to leadership and learning. At Drake University, Dr. Muselman excels as an Assistant Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the Master of Science in Leadership Program. Her passion for teaching and commitment to innovative pedagogy demonstrate her dedication to cultivating future leaders in management, leadership, and business strategy. In the industry, Dr. Muselman actively contributes as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation and plays key roles in organizations such as Kids Chance of Iowa, WorkCompBlitz, and the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, underscoring her leadership and advocacy in workers’ compensation. A highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Muselman inspires professionals with her engaging talks on leadership, self-development, and risk management. Her philosophy of empathetic and emotionally intelligent leadership is at the heart of her message, encouraging innovation and progressive change in the industry. "Empowerment is key to progress. By nurturing today's professionals with empathy and intelligence, we're crafting tomorrow's leaders." - Dr. Claire C. Muselman

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