Work-Life Services Home Page
Work–Life Services (WLS) are five negotiated benefits programs for Executive Branch employees resulting from a collaboration between NYS and the public employee unions. These programs are designed to increase employee productivity and morale by improving the quality of work and life for employees and include: Employee Assistance Program, Worksite Child Care Centers, Flex Spending Account, NYS–Ride, and Pre–Retirement Planning.
To view or print the Work-Life Services Brochure click here.
The NYS-Balance Contract Has Ended
The contract for the NYS-Balance resource and referral service, jointly funded by the State and the unions, expired on December 31, 2015. If you need information or assistance related to resources and referrals, please contact the NYS Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (800) 822-0244 (24/7) or firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be connected with an EAP coordinator who will be able to provide you with customized resources and referrals for a wide range of issues including work, family, daily life, finances, health and well-being, mental health, addiction, and stress. A list of EAP coordinators is available at EAP Coordinator Directory
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Some people suffer from symptoms of depression during the winter months, with symptoms subsiding during the spring and summer months. These symptoms may be a sign of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January, and February. The "Winter Blues," a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people.
- Three out of four SAD sufferers are women.
- The main age of onset of SAD is between 18 and 30 years of age.
- SAD occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres, but is extremely rare in those living within 30 degrees latitude of the equator.
- The severity of SAD depends both on a person's vulnerability to the disorder and his or her geographical location.
A diagnosis of SAD can be made after three consecutive winters of the following symptoms if they are also followed by complete remission of symptoms in the spring and summer months:
- Depression: misery, guilt, loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, despair, and apathy.
- Anxiety: tension and inability to tolerate stress.
- Mood changes: extremes of mood and, in some, periods of mania in spring and summer.
- Sleep problems: desire to oversleep and difficulty staying awake or, sometimes, disturbed sleep and early morning waking.
- Lethargy: feeling of fatigue and inability to carry out normal routine
- Overeating: craving for starchy and sweet foods resulting in weight gain.
- Social problems: irritability and desire to avoid social contact.
- As sunlight has affected the seasonal activities of animals (i.e., reproductive cycles and hibernation), SAD may be an effect of this seasonal light variation in humans. As seasons change, there is a shift in our "biological internal clocks" or circadian rhythm, due partly to these changes in sunlight patterns. This can cause our biological clocks to be out of "step" with our daily schedules.
- Melatonin, a sleep-related hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, has been linked to SAD. This hormone, which may cause symptoms of depression, is produced at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, when the days are shorter and darker the production of this hormone increases.
Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Phototherapy or bright light therapy has been shown to suppress the brain's secretion of melatonin. Although, there have been no research findings to definitely link this therapy with an antidepressant effect, light therapy has been shown to be effective in up to 85 percent of diagnosed cases. Patients remain in light up to ten times the intensity of normal domestic lighting up to four hours a day, but may carry on normal activities such as eating or reading while undergoing treatment. The device most often used today is a bank of white fluorescent lights on a metal reflector and shield with a plastic screen.
- For mild symptoms, spending time outdoors during the day or arranging homes and workplaces to receive more sunlight may be helpful. One study found that an hour's walk in winter sunlight was as effective as two and a half hours under bright artificial light.
- If phototherapy does not work, an antidepressant drug may prove effective in reducing or eliminating SAD symptoms, but there may be unwanted side effects to consider. Discuss your symptoms thoroughly with your family doctor and/or mental health professional.
© Copyright Mental Health America 2016
NYS-Ride allows eligible state employees to pay up to $255 per month for certain work-related transportation expenses on a pre-tax basis. More than 8,000 participants who use public transportation to get to work currently enjoy the saving this program provides, while contributing to a greener environment by reducing carbon emissions, greenhouse gasses, and dependence on foreign oil.
The NYS-Ride website provides employees with quick and easy access to all the information they would need to learn about the program, calculate their savings and impact on the environment, enroll in NYS-Ride, make changes to their elections, or view their accounts. Please visit the website at www.nysride.com
Welcome to the Family Packet
Work-Life Services introduces the "Welcome to the Family Packet". Parenting is an exciting and challenging experience. Today's parents often face unique circumstances balancing their work and family responsibilities. As a New York State Executive Branch employee parent, you are entitled to several negotiated benefits designed to assist you with balancing work and life. The "Welcome to the Family Packet" will outline these benefits programs as well as provide educational child care and parenting brochures. We invite you to request a "Welcome to the Family Packet" if you are expecting or recently added to your family through the birth or adoption of a child. Email your request along with your name and home address to: email@example.com.
"Parenthood, it's not a job. It's an adventure" – –author unknown
The NYS Work-Life Services Employee Assistance Program recently launched a wellness initiative called WellNYS Everyday. The initiative is dedicated to educating, engaging, and empowering New York State employees and their families by encouraging participation in healthy behaviors, particularly the Monthly Challenges. In addition to the Monthly Challenges, the WellNYS Everyday website features a portal titled Eating for Your Health. Click here to find monthly food themes with recipes, and general tips for healthy eating.
2016 Flex Spending Account Changes in Status and New Employees
The FSA 2016 open enrollment period ended on November 24, 2015. Employees who experience a valid change in status on or after November 25, 2015 or during the 2016 plan year, may be eligible to enroll by submitting a Change in Status application. Visit www.flexspend.ny.gov to review the 2016 Change in Status information to determine if your situation qualifies you to enroll during the plan year.
Retirement Planning Videos
A series of short videos — the Planning Your Successful Retirement Video Guide — highlighting key information from the popular DIRECTIONS: Pre-Retirement Planning Seminars is now available. Designed for executive branch employees, the 23 videos were created in partnership with the Office of the State Comptroller, the Department of Civil Service, the NYS Deferred Compensation Plan, and the Social Security Administration. Employees can view the videos along with other pre-retirement planning information on this Work-Life Services website and also on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/GOERWebServices.
Retirement Planning Resources Workshops
The Retirement Planning Resources Workshop is a free, one-hour training, available to state agencies for their employees, regardless of years of state service. The training will not cover specific retirement information, and is not a substitute for the full-day DIRECTIONS seminars. Instead, the goal of this training program is to educate executive branch employees about the resources available so they can begin planning their retirement.
If you would like to schedule this one-hour training, you may contact Beth Brumaghim, Seminar Program Manager, at Beth.Brumaghim@goer.ny.gov or 518.473.4018.