Psychological injuries

A correctional officer witnesses a violent attack by inmates.

A social worker is exposed to repeated reports of trauma against children.

A receptionist is being threatened and bullied by coworkers in the office each day.

There are no visible injuries. No casts or crutches—but each of these individuals have one thing in common. They all experienced a workplace injury.

Not unlike physical trauma to your body, psychological injuries can be devastating. We are here to let you know that we recognize these injuries just like we do a physical injury or illness. If your psychological injury is the result of a workplace event or series of events, we can help you.

Getting a claim started

Psychological injuries are unique and require specialized care and treatment. We have teams dedicated to managing these types of claims and who offer an additional level of expertise to what can often be very complex and emotional circumstances.

If you believe you’ve experienced a psychological injury as a result of an event or series of events at work, it's your right to report it. You can submit a report to us quickly and easily online, or by fax. If you’ve missed time from work, it’s important to share this with your employer so they can submit a report as well.

Presumptive coverage

Presumptive coverage means that when you are formally diagnosed with a psychological injury after exposure to a traumatic event(s) at work or while working, we will presume the diagnosis is related to your job, unless proven otherwise¬ (to provide service that is fair and responsible, we do need to ensure there is reasonable cause and effect). Presumptive coverage applies on accidents that have occurred on or after April 1, 2018.

When assessing for presumptive coverage, a traumatic incident(s) is a direct personal experience of a work-related event or directly witnessing a work-related event that is:

  • Specific, sudden, frightening or shocking; and/or
  • An actual or threatened death or serious injury to oneself or other, or threat to one’s physical being.

How we can help you recover

We work with a number of community psychologists across Alberta to help you access the best care for your individual needs. We can help you select a provider and WCB will cover the costs of treatment and reporting on your claim.

Contracted services are available throughout the province—in both urban centres and rural areas, which means we will always do our best to connect you with a provider that is in your community if that is your preference. Treatment providers offer a variety of counselling specialities, including:

  • Anxiety or phobias relating to the work-related injury
  • Brain injury counselling
  • Depression
  • Grief/loss
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Pain management
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress management and relaxation training
  • Substance abuse

Traumatic Psychological Injury (TPI) care model

If your situation is complex and you require some extra support in your recovery, we’ve developed a care model that partners specialized clinical professionals with you to help you gain the skills and tools needed to move forward in a positive direction. If you, your case manager or health care provider have concerns about your recovery, you may be referred for a TPI assessment at one of the contracted provider clinics. The focus on the of the TPI care model is:

Education: Information about common responses to trauma and different ways to cope. With your approval, family members may also be provided with education in order to understand and support your recovery process.

Personal attention: Services that are tailored to your individual needs.

Improved recovery: Early intervention and access to a team of specialists (e.g., psychologists, occupational therapists and exercise therapists), a healthier return to regular activities and work is more likely to be achieved.

When a physical injury affects your mental health

Sometimes, psychological injuries develop as a result of a physical injury.

For example, a construction worker takes a serious fall from a roof and suffers a spinal cord injury. He undergoes multiple surgeries and rehabilitation to help him recover and adjust to a new way of moving his body—and living his life. Although he is receiving care and making strides in his recovery, the changes he’s facing feel overwhelming. He can no longer work in his chosen field and begins to feel disconnected to his old life and those around him. Anxiety and depression are setting in. These are called secondary psychological injuries.

These types of secondary injuries can become a significant barrier to physical recovery. Our job is to help you with both. Whatever form your workplace injury takes, we are here to help you get the care you need to get back to life, work—and feeling like yourself again. Discussing these feelings openly with your doctor or case manager is the first step in recognizing any potential secondary psychological symptoms.

Additional resources

Whether you have a claim, or are just looking for some extra support, we've put together a listing of trusted resources in the community that can help you.

If you are struggling and need help today, these resources are here for you. You can also reach out to someone you trust—a family member, friend, or your case manager.

Resources

For workers

  • Bullying/harassment in the workplace
    Every Alberta worker is entitled to a harassment free workplace. If you are experiencing bullying or harassment at work, we want to help support you. This fact sheet offers information about when and how WCB-Alberta can help.​
  • Comprehensive psychological and psychological-vocational assessments
    These assessments determine the psychological impact of your work-related injury or incident, identify any work limitations and abilities you might have and provide treatment recommendations. This fact sheet provides details about what to expect, if you are referred for one of these assessments.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    PTSD is a serious psychological injury that can have debilitating impacts. This fact sheet offers information about filing a PTSD claim and the presumptive coverage provided to first responders, correctional officers and emergency dispatchers.
  • Psychological injuries
    If you had a traumatic work-related incident, and developed a psychological injury as a result, you may be entitled to presumptive coverage. This fact sheet offers information about how presumptive coverage for psychological injuries works.​
  • Psychological injuries - Frequently asked questions
    Answers to questions about psychological injuries, diagnosis and the process for accepting these types of claims.

For employers

  • Bullying/harassment in the workplace
    Every Alberta worker is entitled to a harassment free workplace. Learn which situations are considered bullying or harassment and what you can do as an employer to provide a safe work environment.
  • Psychological injuries
    Learn more about psychological injuries and how you can support your employee while they recover from a psychological injury. ​