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Publish date

8 October 2019

Mental Health in Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Cases

On World Mental Health Day, Thomson Snell & Passmore reflects on what mental health means for our clinical negligence and personal injury clients.

With one in six adults experiencing common mental health problems every week, there is a clear need for an increased understanding of an issue which affects the lives of so many people.

Our clinical negligence and personal injury clients often experience injuries that impact upon their mental health. Sometimes, although the most obvious injury is physical, our clients experience flashbacks, fears or anxiety relating to their accident.

For some, physical limitations as a result of their injuries begin to impact their mental health in other ways.

Injuries can impact our clients’ ability to enjoy their hobbies and spend relaxing time with family and friends. Or their injuries may be limiting them in other ways; causing difficulties with work or making it hard to leave the house. Family and friends are often able to provide care and help, but all these factors can create additional stresses and anxieties.

We often come across

  • Adjustment disorders: stress related conditions, whereby our clients experience more stress than would normally be expected in response to a stressful event. Often, the stress begins to cause problems in the client’s daily life, and can manifest as anxiety, nerves and feeling “stressed out”, feeling frequently tearful or overwhelmed, a difficulty concentrating and carrying out daily activities, avoiding work or paying bills, and withdrawing from friends and family
  • Anxiety: although most people feel anxious at times, for some of our clients anxiety impacts their life significantly. The anxiety may have become disproportionate to the situation and difficult to control, and could include panic attacks. Some of our clients start to avoid situations that cause anxiety, which can be limiting and isolating
  • Phobias: these are triggered by certain situations, and often occur after events such as road traffic accidents, or medical accidents
  • Depression: this is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects everyday life. For some, it makes everyday life more difficult and less worthwhile, and for others it can lead to suicidal thoughts. Many of our clients suffer with a degree of depression after the events that led to their claim, and for some this can begin to have a considerable impact on daily life and make it difficult to cope
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): some of our clients find that they develop PTSD after the traumatic event that led to their claim. Symptoms include vivid flashbacks and intrusive images and thoughts, alertness and a feeling of being on edge, pain and nausea, feeling numb or detached, struggling to sleep and a host of other symptoms.

How can we help?

We aim to put our clients in the position they would have been if the accident had not happened. Part of this process involves seeking treatment for anxiety, depression and other mental heath problems that have been caused by what has happened.

This means that, as part of your compensation package, we will claim money for therapy that will help to resolve your problems. There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all approach, and we will look to tailor your claim to the help you need. We will ask psychiatrists or psychologists to meet with you and assess your difficulties and the treatments that could help to improve your mental health. For some, this may offer a new treatment and new hope, and for others it may support a claim for further sessions or treatment of a type you have already found helpful.

Common treatments include

  • Talking therapies, including counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychological therapy, psychotherapy and talking treatments. Although these are broadly similar terms, different talking therapies can have a different focus, or use different techniques, and can be tailored to suit the individual
  • Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR): Rather than using medications or talking therapy, it uses rapid eye movement to help process troubling images and feelings. EMDR can be helpful to clients who have experienced traumatic events, and assist with conditions like PTSD
  • Arts-based and creative therapies. This can include art, drama or music, and it can be an activity you already enjoy, or a brand new skill. For some, creative therapy, with the support of a trained professional, can help to you to communicate and express yourself, and address painful feelings and topics
  • Complementary and alternative therapies. This can include yoga, meditation, hypnotherapy, acupuncture and other treatments that help to manage stress and other common symptoms of mental health problems
  • In some cases, we will need to consider a claim for future “top up” treatment to account for any future difficulties that may trigger some of the same thoughts and feelings again. For others, we may be able to seek interim payments (that is, the defendant paying a proportion of your compensation to you before the claim is settled) in order to allow you to seek earlier treatment.

Our aims

Over many years, Thomson Snell & Passmore has worked with leaders in the fields of psychiatry and psychology, and we help to find the right experts and specialists to identify the root of our clients’ difficulties and identify treatments that will assist with ongoing symptoms.

We look to provide peace of mind to clients and their families.  We do this by focusing on putting together the best possible case for a client to give them the specialist help they need. With compensation, we can help our clients obtain the care and support they need, not only for their physical injuries, but also to improve their mental health.

For us it is about quality of life.

About us

Our lawyers are specialists in medical negligence and personal injury cases and our clinical negligence & personal injury team is one of the most established in the country.

We are highly ranked by two of the most prestigious, independent guides to the legal profession “Chambers and Partners” and “The Legal 500”

Our clinical negligence lawyers have dealt with thousands of medical negligence cases, covering all areas of medicine, many worth millions of pounds to the injured person.

We have also been recognised by The Modern Law Awards for Personal Injury Team of the Year.

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