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28

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2016

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

T

he Foreign Service Mental Health

Services program encompasses a

variety of domestic programs and

responsibilities including employee

assistance, medical clearances and

medical evacuation coordination,

among others. But the backbone of

mental health support for the Foreign

Service community serving overseas

are the 22 regional medical officer/psychiatrists (known as

RMO/Ps) spread throughout the world, all covering multiple

The Face of Mental

Health Services

Overseas

State’s 22 regional medical officer/psychiatrists are the backbone of

mental health support for the Foreign Service community overseas.

Here is a closer look at what they do.

BY STEPHEN A . YOUNG

Stephen A. Young, M.D., is the director of Mental Health

Services for the Department of State. Originally from

Boston, he attended Tufts University School of Medicine

and went on to complete a residency in general psychia-

try and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the Walter

Reed Army Medical Center. After leaving the military, he held teaching

appointments at a variety of medical schools, including the University

of Florida and the University of South Carolina. Dr. Young joined the

State Department medical team in 2008 and has completed tours inWest

Africa, South America and Asia. He took over as the director of Mental

Health Services in September 2015. He is married and has one daughter

and a brand new granddaughter.

posts within their respective regions.

The RMO/Ps are an eclectic group. We are all required to be

certified by the American Board of Psychology and Neurology and

have at least five years of experience post-residency training to

be eligible to join the Foreign Service. Some of us have additional

training in child psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and addictions

medicine. Our most senior member just retired after 25 years of

service; our most junior member just this month began his first

tour.

Like all Foreign Service employees, RMO/Ps are required to bid

and cycle through assignments every two to three years. In recent

years we have expanded, adding postings in Manama, Jakarta,

Dakar and Bogota.

Three Main Functions

RMO/Ps have three main functions in the field: patient care,

community education and assisting leadership with morale and

problem-employee issues. Patient care varies tremendously,

and in many cases the RMO/P is the only mental health provider

available to the embassy community. We see children, couples,

families and employees who may need anything from support

with a supervisor to a prescription for medication. The availability

of online pharmacy services has helped us tremendously with the

latter, but problems still arise as certain medications are illegal

FOCUS

ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR THE FOREIGN SERVICE