2 nonprofits discuss services for first responders’ mental health

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) – According to the U.S. Department of Health, 30% of first responders develop behavioral health conditions, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Work is being done to reduce those numbers. Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt is on a critical incident stress management group based in Marquette. Zyburt said the work the group does expands across the Upper Peninsula.

“I’ve been on the team for 20 years and we offer it not only in Marquette but surrounding counties for any first responder agency,” Zyburt said.

The group is a nonprofit and relies on grants and community donations. It’s designed to help first responders and others cope with trauma from critical incidents they’ve been on the scene for, including vehicle crashes, violence, death and other crises.

“Sometimes, people don’t eat, they can’t sleep, they have all these different things that are bothering them in the back of their mind and it affects them, their family and their work. Within one or two days [of an incident] we have a briefing,” Zyburt said.

The American Red Cross provides disaster mental health services to first responders or anyone at the scene across the country, including the U.P.

“At the disaster, we will ask people how they are doing, and we identify our services which include mental health, spiritual care, health care and recovery case workers,” American Red Cross Volunteer Cindy Cain said.

Cain emphasized the importance of talking about the mental health of emergency personnel.

“Nobody can ever do enough to help other people and just knowing that someone who truly cares in offering assistance is what makes the difference,” Cain said.

Both the American Red Cross and the critical incident stress management group are looking for more volunteers.

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