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Can you file for workers' compensation for a psychiatric illness?

If you're stressed out at work, you can actually become physically sick. It's important that you are able to have a good work-life balance, since this keeps your mental and physical health in a good place.

A stressful job does impact you in a few ways. It can affect your appetite, immune system and motivation. While California's laws don't allow you to claim for stress alone, there is a chance that you could file a workers' compensation claim if you suffer a psychiatric injury because of your job.

Here's an example. Imagine if Jack is working with Jim when he witnesses Jim get caught in a piece of dangerous machinery. Witnessing such a traumatic incident can take a toll on a person's mental health. Jack may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result, which could be compensable through workers' compensation.

Cumulative mental stress injuries may also be compensable if you have worked on the job for at least six months. Heavy workloads, harassment or other combined events leading to psychiatric illness could result in a claim.

What can your employer do to prevent psychiatric stress?

Your employer should always take steps to reduce stress in the workplace. Using critical incident debriefings, post-trauma groups and other supports can help those who have experienced traumatic incidents. Staff meetings and listening to worker complaints can help employers address stress and make changes to reduce the impact of stress in the workplace.

It can be hard to get through the day if you've suffered a psychiatric illness from the workplace. There is help, though. You may be able to seek and be awarded workers' compensation benefits, so you can get the support and help you need.

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