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Mental health claims increased 2.4% last year with the rise driven almost exclusively by an unusually sharp uptick in health care workers filing claims for anxiety and depression-related conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released during a webinar featuring Sedgwick Claims Management Inc.
Health care workers in 2020 filed nearly 43% more mental health claims than in 2019, by far the biggest increase in any industry that researchers analyzed, said Andy Berg, associate vice president of workforce absence at Sedgwick, who spoke during a webinar hosted by the Disability Management Employer Coalition.
Between 2019 and 2020, the share of mental health claims for anxiety filed by health care workers rose 18.3%, and they filed 69% more anxiety claims over that period, Mr. Berg said.
Anxiety claims increased in every industry Sedgwick looked at, but the health care worker claims data should be seen as a red flag as the anxiety incidence rate increased by nearly 70%, he said.
Among all sectors, anxiety as a percentage of mental health claims rose 16.4% between 2019 and 2020, accounting for 46.7% of all mental health claims last year, he said. In 2020, the total number of anxiety claims per 1,000 employees in all sectors jumped more than 19%.
The data came from Sedgwick’s 2020 book of business, which featured more than 600,000 short-term disability claims, about 10% of which were mental health-related, Mr. Berg said.
Depression-related claims fell overall in 2020, but they increased significantly for health care workers who filed nearly 27% more claims for depression, mood disorders and bipolar conditions in 2020, according to Sedgwick.
More insurance and workers compensation news on the coronavirus crisis here.
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Essential workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic are at great risk for developing mental health issues that come from daily exposure to the virus and its implications, according to presenters at a Monday session during the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s 2021 conference, which was held virtually.