Gary Maziarz on the Importance of Mental Health Support Outlets for First Responders
First responders are the front-line workers that make an immediate appearance to an emergency site. These include firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. They are the protectors of society, acting expertly to minimize a tragedy, save a life, and maintain calm in any given situation.
These medically trained professionals are often presented with the unknown. In every situation, they are expected to respond with clarity and efficiency. They are also required to protect themselves and others in the process. It is, without hesitation, a very challenging yet rewarding position.
However, despite its advantages, significant trauma is experienced. Witnessing devastating injuries and, in more severe cases, death can have an adverse impact as it can vastly affect the health and mental well-being of professionals in this field. Hence, adequate support must be provided to first responders to sustain their emotional welfare.
Gary Maziarz, now an IT business manager located in Denver, Colorado, was a first responder at ground zero after 9/11 and searched for survivors and assisted the NY National Guard for a month. With his experience, he understands just how vital mental health support is for first responders.
PTSD and Other Related Psychological Health Conditions
The stressors ascribed to first responder roles can alter behavioral actions. Repetitive exposure to traumatic events combined with extended work hours is analogous to behavioral changes. Hence, there is a wide-ranging concern for the influence this job has on professionals in this field.
PTSD is a mental health condition that is prompted by a traumatic event. In comparison to other occupations, emergency responders are strongly susceptible to this disorder due to their persistent exposure to distressing situations. PTSD is generally characterized by flashbacks, extreme anxiety, insistent and irrepressible thoughts about a particular case or event. Other symptoms can include difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, loss of interest in activities once considered important, paranoia or worry of pending dangers, and other prominent symptoms.
Although PTSD is a common mental illness amongst first responders, it is not the only one, notes Gary Maziarz. Other mental health disorders can transpire. Additional conditions can include depression, suicide, alcohol abuse, and anxiety. The reality of these disorders highlights the importance of providing significant support to front line emergency personnel.
Significance of Mental Health Agencies and Outlets
Mental health is an imperative component of our wellbeing. When there is a shift in our emotional or mental state, this can have notable impacts on our everyday lives. It can affect both physical and cognitive responses. With first responders, says Gary Maziarz, these shifts can have a sound influence on how they interact in their personal lives, but also how successfully they perform while at work.
Living with PTSD or suffering from any other mental condition can be quite debilitating. Professionals who have PTSD and other severe conditions experience more significant occupational effects. They find it challenging to work while struggling to cope with their symptoms. Hence, outcomes such as increased absence and decreased work performance are just some of the consequences faced.
Final Thoughts from Gary Maziarz
With these effects in mind, it is pivotal that police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and those alike receive the adequate support they need to uphold the welfare of their mental health. Concentration on improving the wellbeing of first responders is critical in reducing the stigma ascribed to mental health in these fields, says Gary Maziarz.
Moreover, the implementation of health support outlets in the workplace and also within the community has its advantages. It aids with early detection and limits its severity. It enables mental issues to be treated with immediacy and reduces the robust impact it can have on the first responders battling with these conditions.