Stacey Goldstein-Dwyer of GD Psych Services in Rio Rancho presents a talk about good mental-health business practices at the Grow Your Business Expo at Santa Ana Star Center on Tuesday.
Photo Amy Byres/Observer

Businesses should take into account employee mental-health due to 35 productive days a year being lost because employees are not mentally present, said Stacey Goldstein-Dwyer of GD Psych Services in Rio Rancho.

Employees sometimes come to work in a state of presenteeism, meaning employees are not able to function at full capacity due to a straining circumstance. The employee is physically at work, but not mentally, Goldstein-Dwyer said.

“And when that happens, businesses lose money; they lose productivity,” she said.

She spoke at the Grow Your Business Expo at Santa Ana Star Center on Tuesday.

She said she wanted to break mental-health boundaries culturally set in work places, and create a new narrative that’s more productive for a business and healthier for an employee, she said.

About 45 percent of employees are affected by presenteeism and absenteeism in the workplace, Goldstein-Dwyer said.

“What I am trying to explain or express today is the importance of encouraging a culture that lends itself to good mental health,” she said.

Something to consider adding to employee benefits is adding an employee assistance program. This provides a trained mental-health expert at work.

Grow Your Business Expo at Santa Ana Star Center on Tuesday. Photo Amy Byres/Observer

Goldstein-Dwyer is promoting a service called Telehealth that promotes productivity in the workplace and good mental health.

Telehealth offers an employee a private space at work to speak about “in the moment” issues through a computer screen.

“And we can have that one-to-one engagement with them and at least help them in that moment and then schedule a follow up so they can come see us,” she said.

This program includes:

• Team-building;

• Psychiatric medication management; and

• Mental-health training.

For team building, they have partnered with Loving Thunder Therapeutic Riding and La Bella Spa and Salon to take a group and conduct exercises.

Psychiatric medication management is offered through Telehealth services and insurance companies.

Mental health training provides guidance in suicide prevention, conflict resolution and more.

Businesses can create mental-health-friendly cultures on their own as well.

Businesses can review their time-off options and add presenteeism days so employees can take days off without being penalized.

“A lot of times, you have two weeks as sick time, and then you have a few floating holidays and you have two personal days. And to really understand your employee culture and whether or not it will lend itself to when an employee is not necessarily sick, but not feeling up to par, and not feeling so good to come to work. Because you don’t want them there if they’re not feeling well and if they’re not feeling productive enough,” she said.

She also reminds employers of the importance of encouraging employees to take breaks for five to 10 minutes every hour.

“If you don’t have a culture that really promotes that or if you don’t allow them breaks or time to really focus on self-care, then employees are not going to focus on it, either,” she said

In Goldstein-Dwyer’s own business, she gives her employees a break between noon and 1 p.m. to make her employees take some time off.

“I do that because my clinicians won’t take the time off and I’m forcing them to, but I am promoting a culture of health,” she said.

Allowing employees to work remotely is a possibility. For days that an employee is not really feeling up to par, working from home, depending on the job, could result in more productivity versus if they were to go into work, Goldstein-Dwyer said.

“And now in this day and age, remote work is a very high possibility,” she said.

Another way to promote a culture that values self-care is to promote health in the workplace by providing discounted gym memberships or by bringing in a nutritional consultant, she said.

“Maybe you can connect with a local group who does nutritional consults. It is great if you can bring them in and do a luncheon. Do a presentation; have them come in; have them advertise their business and possible services and do it over a luncheon,” she said.

Or conduct an ergonomic assessment of employees’ workspaces. This is when someone comes in to assess if a work environment is optimal in terms of health.

“So making sure they are not bending over, that their back is nice and straight, their hands are nice and straight so they don’t get carpal tunnel and promote a positive happy work environment as well,” she said

GD Psych Services, 661 Quantum Road, can be reached at 218-6383 for more information.