My PSC Story: Helping Employees Stay On Track and Thrive
As part of the “My PSC Story” series, Dr. Russell Robinson, Senior Training and Engagement Advisor, interviewed Jeff Mintzer, to share how he’s navigated his federal career, and to strengthen our culture. Jeff recently retired after 20 years of public service with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His most recent role was Deputy Director of Behavioral Health Services for the Program Support Center’s (PSC) Federal Occupational Health (FOH).
Russell: Can you tell me about your FOH career?
My career was about delivery and supportive service to individuals in the work setting. I was doing what I later found out was occupational social work. I wanted to help people keep their jobs, their dignity, and their sense of purpose.
That was my career. I knew what I wanted to do, and that was later called employee assistance work. FOH gave me the opportunity to do the work that I wanted to do, and that was an okay relationship. FOH gave me the ability to get paid a salary to do what I wanted to do. That has lasted for 20 years.
Russell: When you started at FOH doing this work, what was the need for this type of work throughout the federal government?
FOH put the contract in place to grow work/life and dependent care. Elder care and child care were becoming part of the industry. They had 10 small agreements covering 80,000 employees for people wanting elder and child care. FOH wanted me to manage the program and the direct service was provided by the vendor.
PSC and FOH were thrilled and supported this, and I had a ball. We talked about the need, which was growing throughout the federal space. Agencies were starting to pick up elder and child care. It wasn't as much me having the golden touch but having the right timing. So we grew the business into a multi-million dollar service division.
Russell: When you look back on your FOH career, what would you say that you are most proud of?
Well, I think being able to find my way to continue to support occupational health service following the core functions of a real EAP (Employee Assistance Program). I mean having all the elements — not just counseling. There are core features which include consulting, referring, and helping with substance abuse.
Also, educating the front-line supervisors and helping workers and leaders make linkages to the resources to help the organization and the worker get back on track, so they don't lose their job, and hopefully, thrive. People want to work and have value and meaning toward what they are doing. So I am most proud that FOH allowed us to stay true to a professional vision of what an EAP should be and deliver.
Russell: Conversely, what do you think your biggest regrets or challenges have been?
I wouldn't say regrets, but more challenges. The program management and our federal world, our non-appropriated world, it was difficult to focus on the end user — the individual. That struggle to make sure the organization stayed healthy and viable without compromising the care of the individual was a challenge that never went away. It was always there.
Russell: What's next for you?
I can't quite get past what I want to do, past sleep. Twenty years of delivering direct service and program management, I am going to rest for a little while and have some restorative time. I want to focus on my health and the quality of life for me, my husband, and our family. We are going to travel. We are interested in cultures, histories, and food. Ultimately, I will find some community service opportunity that does gives me value.
Would you like to share your story for the “My PSC Story” series? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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