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CorVel Corporation presented its Critical Incident Stress Debriefing program, highlighting positive outcomes with the City of Beverly Hills, at the annual Public Agency Risk Management Association (PARMA) meeting on March 1, 2022, in Anaheim, California.

Critical incident stress debriefing has been around for many years. However, it has recently re-emerged as a tool for employers facing several challenges in our current climate.

Originally designed for responders to traumatic events, critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) is a structured, brief intervention provided in a small group setting immediately following a crisis. It’s designed to help people process the event to minimize symptoms of traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. Critical incident debriefing typically consists of seven stages, and altogether, it lasts approximately three hours or less.

“Critical incident” is another term for a traumatic event. It includes any occurrence faced by public safety responders, emergency workers, and related personnel that causes distress and disruption to typical psychological or physiological functioning. Critical incidents often involve death or extreme threats to safety, life, and well-being.

It was developed in 1974 by Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell, a former firefighter and paramedic, as one component of a broader critical incident stress management (CISM) program.

During the presentation, Tyla A. DiMaria, RN, Case Management Manager for CorVel, discussed the company’s patient-centered approach that helps employees who have witnessed a catastrophic or traumatic event process the situation, work through the hurdles and develop coping mechanisms to return to work as quickly as possible.

These past two years have put a spotlight on mental health, as people have been dealing with the stresses of illness, death, civil unrest, isolation and so many other difficult situations,” DiMaria said. “We’ve seen a significant increase in depression, anxiety, crippling fear and other mental health issues, especially for essential workers, and these challenges must be addressed and not ignored.”

Last year, CorVel’s program was expanded to address COVID-19 traumatic stress – a syndrome developing due to the significant mental health challenges associated with the pandemic.

During the presentation, DiMaria outlined how the City of Beverly Hills partnered with CorVel to implement a critical incident and COVID-19 traumatic stress debriefing program for city employees, improving return to work and positively impacting overall costs and outcomes.

“We are very proud of our expanded Critical Incident Stress Debriefing program, which places emphasis on the injured worker and their overall wellbeing,” said Karen Thomas, Vice President, Clinical Solutions at CorVel.

“At CorVel, we take a patient-centered approach to claims management to ensure that the injured worker feels supported throughout the process, regardless of the type of illness or injury. By taking a proactive approach to mental health, we can improve outcomes and reduce costs for customers while increasing satisfaction and care for injured workers.”