One of the more interesting revelations of 2019 came in April, when the National Accident Helpline revealed, among a slew of other statistics, that more than seven in ten of those who fall victim to an accident suffer from mental health problems in the immediate aftermath. These problems cover a range of symptoms, including paranoia, nightmares, stress and panic attacks, as well as others.
The figures were released to support the organisation’s ‘Make it Right’ campaign, whose aim is to demonstrate that accidents don’t just inflict physical harm in the short term, but more lasting kinds of harm which range from the physical to the mental.
What Symptoms are more Common?
Of all of the symptoms listed, stress and anxiety were some way ahead of the pack, with 35% and 34% of respondents citing these symptoms respectively. Sleep deprivation was at 21%, depression was at 18%, and nightmares and panics attacks were at 13% each.
Moreover, when the respondents were asked how long it took to recover fully from an accident, around 62% said that it took ‘longer than expected’. This demonstrates a need for expectation management on the part of those who provide medical care – it should be clear that recovery doesn’t end when the victim is discharged from a hospital.
Around two-thirds of respondents reported feelings of nervousness around the site of the accident, while 55% said that they worried about leaving the home. This is a particular concern for workplace accidents, as well as those which occur in a vehicle: 63% said that a road accident caused them to worry about getting back into a vehicle.
What can be done?
The report quotes an NHS mental health nurse named Ray Maramba, whose experience of dealing with injured patients has led him to form a firm idea of the problem. “Someone could be working all their life, they have an accident, they’ll be off work for a month. And that will disrupt their way of life, they can become clinically depressed – low mood, no motivation, lack of doing things, and whatever we say or do, it can never help…they could be the breadwinner in the house, their partner may not be working, and that can have severe consequences.”
Among the campaign’s most high-profile advocates is Dr Hilary Jones, who said that “this survey, for the first time that I’m aware of, talks about the impact the psychological effects of the physical injury, which are often, as the survey showed, far more enduring than the physical injury. And the statistics in the survey reveal just how common that scenario is and that people aren’t generally getting the help they really require at that stage.”