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Brain Injury, Psychological Injury & the Stigma #BellLetsTalk

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day! Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in Canada.

For every text, mobile and long distance call, tweet using #BellLetsTalk, Bell Let’s Talk Day video view on social media, use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, Bell will donate 5¢ to Canadian mental health initiatives.

This is a super fantastic initiative which has helped to raise $86,504,429.05 since September 2010 towards mental health.

But, sometimes it’s not all about the Benjamins. Sometimes, it’s about raising awareness, ending negative stigma, and helping people feel more comfortable in their own skin. Perhaps greater than the money, is the very fact that people are more comfortable joining the conversation and talking about mental illness.

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative dovetails nicely in to personal injury law.

Not all of our cases have objective injuries which you can see on an x-ray, CT Scan, or MRI.

A lot of our cases involve psychological trauma or mental disability from an accident, or mental illness.

Take for example the person who suffers from depression and anxiety. On the surface, they appear to be completely normal. That person has no visible injury.  They don’t walk with a limp. They don’t have a cast on their arm, or any bandages on their face to show an injury.

They seem to be functioning normally in the workplace and in other social settings.

But on the inside there is a much different story. Feelings of sadness, anger, despair, hopelessness, lethargy and overall negative emotions loom. That person’s public persona is likely entirely different than what they are feeling on the inside, and how they act in a private setting.

What happens if this person cannot keep up their daily routine and needs some time off to collect themselves and recover? What happens if this person cannot return to work at all, because their psychological illness has caught up with them such that gainful employment and functioning in a public setting is no longer safe, or even option?Goldfinger-law_Logo_colour-300x78

This person, if they are lucky enough, may be eligible to short term of long term disability benefits through with an insurer such as Great West Life, Sun Life, Industrial Alliance, Desjardins, SSQ or Manulife.

In a perfect world, those long term disability benefits on account of mental illness or psychological injury will get paid out, no questions asked.

But their world isn’t perfect, hence the need for lawyers…..

Often, these short term and long term disability benefits are not paid out. It’s easy for an insurer to look at a file and not give much weight to a person’s mental illness or psychological injury. From their perspective, how real can your fears, depression or anxiety really be? From their perspective, you are just trying to take advantage of the system on account of your alleged problems.

Because your mental illness or psychological injury won’t show up on any x-ray, CT Scan, or MRI, it’s easy for an insurer to deny your claim. After all, from a physical perspective, you’re doing fine!

All it could take is one quack doctor who is retained by, and paid by the insurance company to examine you and say that you’re “fine“, and your case could be jeopardized. That paid doctor’s denial will have justified the insurer’s decision to deny your claim at the outset; or legitimize their current hard line stance on your benefits.

The same notion for denial of psychological trauma in short term and long term disability claims, equally applies to motor vehicle accident cases. Our lawyers commonly see people who suffer from depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a serious motor vehicle accident. These injuries are serious, permanent and can be totally debilitating. These injuries may not be accompanied by broken bones or lost limbs. They are the bi product of the trauma sustained in the accident.Goldfinger-logo-icon-300x300

These psychological injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents can be quickly discounted by large auto insurers. The same school of thought as with short term and long term disability applies here. If the accident victim did not sustain any objective physical injuries, then how hurt can they really be?

Adding a further layer to dealing with psychological injury are the effects of concussion and brain injury. Not all brain injuries are detectable on a CT Scan or MRI. Sometimes the smallest knock to the head can cause the most serious damage.

Some brain injury symptoms include but aren’t limited to memory loss, dizziness, loss of concentration, problems with emotional regulation, short temper, blurred vision, loss of appetite, sadness, depression, anxiety and/or suicidal ideations. The common thread with all of these symptoms is that they aren’t detectable on any x-ray, MRI or CT scan. We have to take your word for it. Your treating doctor needs to take your word for it. Your insurer needs to take your word for it as well. If none of these people believe you, because they think that brain injury, mental illness or psychological injury is a myth, then you won’t get the help you need and your case, should you have one, won’t be a success.

A client recently told me that it won’t be long before there comes a day when a magical wand like device, like the one you may see on Star Trek, can be scanned across a person’s body to determine what their injuries are (physical and non physical). It wouldn’t take a medical degree to operate such a device. All it would take would be the press of a button and a scan of someone’s body.

Everyone at Goldfinger Injury Lawyers would love to see that day come. It would make diagnosing and treating injuries that much easier. But until that day comes, we have the technology and we have the reporting systems which we are dealt. And that’s exactly why Bell Let’s Talk day is so important. Raising awareness and funds for mental health initiatives only improves quality of life, care and access for everyone.



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