Mental health issues are a problem for more than 70% of people who suffer physical injuries in an accident, according to new survey findings.

The study, for claims company National Accident Helpline and released to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, found that 72% of people questioned said they struggled with mental health issues after being injured in an accident, with 35% feeling stressed, 34% anxious and 21% struggling to sleep.

In addition, 65% of those that needed help with their mental health said they did not receive all the support they needed, and 62% reported that the length of time needed to recover fully was much or slightly more than they had expected.

More than 1,000 people who had been injured in accidents which were not their fault, including road accidents and accidents in the workplace, were questioned for the research. 

It also revealed financial pressures, with 55% of those surveyed having lost income, 57% worrying about losing their job altogether, and 63% worrying about their work performance. In addition, 62% also felt they had lost their self-confidence (62%).

Other effect included panic attacks (13%), nightmares (13%), paranoia (8%) and post-traumatic stress disorder (7%). The research suggests that mental recovery can take as long – sometimes longer – than actual physical recovery. Nearly two thirds of those surveyed (63%) worried about walking out and about following their accident, and more than half had worried about leaving the house (55%).

Dr Claire Freeman, a clinical psychologist on the panel of medical professionals involved in the study, commented: "It's really different to physical health… not something you can see on the outside. Sometimes, a young person will present in front of me and they'll just be, 'I'm fine, there's nothing wrong.'

"Then, as soon as you start talking about the incident or the parent starts talking about the incident, you can actually see them visibly start to shake or they might rock backwards and forwards on their chair or they might shake their hands or clench their fists – so they become quite agitated or quite distressed."

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