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Mental wellness remains top priority for essential workers

The Erie County Department of Mental Health continues to collaborate with community organizations to build robust mental health resources for those in need.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — COVID-19 has pushed all of us to our limits, but some more than others.

Since day one, frontline and essential workers, from health care workers to first responders and so many in between, have been called on to not do their everyday jobs but then some.

Life is moving as smoothly as possible, despite the pandemic, thanks to the sacrifice, courage and hard work of so many people. But at cost to them? 

Mental wellness has been a topic of concern for many years, and perhaps now more than ever it is taking centerstage.

Elizabeth Mauro is CEO of Endeavor Health Services and says many essential workers are working under high-pressure jobs, and that high pressure is being absorbed by them and often overlooked.

"Increased anxiety, increased depression, lots of grieving, and I think folks are trying to figure out where to place that. We're also seeing a heavy reliance on alcohol and other substances," Mauro says. 

It's common for people to look at doctors, nurses, police officers, and others as strong enough to handle it, but Mauro says the truth is that caretakers are often the last to put themselves first, even when they need it most.

"It just wears you down. It's just too much death, too much change, too much loss, and there's just a lot of risk that we don't all face," Mauro said.

Not to mention the long shifts, isolation, and trauma so many of them face on account of it coming with the job. 

"Trauma is real and you can't judge it so we have to be careful, it's very personal and specific," Mauro says.

That is why the Erie County Department of Mental Health is working very closely with Endeavor and other organizations that offer mental health services to ensure that essential workers have the services they need 24/7.

Mauro tells 2 On Your Side, "the county is really starting to put out as much material as it can on what services are available and when so people know what's happening."

If you or someone you know is immediately in need of help, call 911 or Crisis Services at (716) 834-3131.

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