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Can workers’ compensation cover school district-related stress?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

Being an employee for a school district can be incredibly taxing on not just your physical but mental health as well. The long work hours and heavy workloads can easily drain energy from you, and it doesn’t take much for school district employees to feel stressed.

Fortunately, California allows you to file a workers’ compensation claim for psychiatric injuries like stress. Unlike most other U.S. states, disabilities resulting from mental stress are compensable under California law.

What causes stress for school district employees?

Stressors at work can exacerbate your stress levels. Common stressors for those working in school districts include:

  • Constant monitoring by computers
  • Discrimination at work
  • Harassment
  • Heavy workloads
  • Lack of sufficient breaks
  • Long work hours
  • Workplace hazards

The higher your stress levels, the more health problems you could experience.

The effects of stress on the body

While it’s a mental issue, stress can lead to a grocery list of physical health problems. If you’re experiencing any of these while experiencing mental difficulties at work in a school district, you might be suffering from severe stress:

  • Headaches
  • Heart attacks
  • Heartburns
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • Insomnia
  • Stomachaches
  • Weaker immune system

Stress can also lead to burnout for school employees, who might choose to quit their jobs rather than put up with their difficult work conditions.

Filing a claim for stress

While California allows workers to file workers’ compensation claims for mental health issues, it can be difficult to convince your employer that your stress was caused by work. To improve the chances that your claim gets approved, you must consider the following:

  • Your work is stressful: You must demonstrate that your work is objectively stressful, whether it’s because of the amount of work you’re asked to do, the number of hours you’re putting in, or because the work environment isn’t conducive for you.
  • You must have credible evidence: When filing your claim, you must have credible evidence proving that you reacted to the work conditions as stressful. This might include data on how your productivity dropped when your stress levels rose or the number of sick leaves you took.
  • The stress you experienced is peculiar to the workplace: You must prove that the stress you experienced was at work and not from outside.
  • You must have evidence supporting psychiatric disability: You’ll need a mental health diagnosis statement from a psychiatrist proving you have a mental health issue.

But even with enough evidence, there’s no guarantee that your employer would approve your workers’ compensation claim for stress. If the school district rejects your claim, consider consulting a legal professional to understand your next steps.