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s part of our look inside the world of

mental health care for the Foreign

Service, we wanted to hear from

members in the field. Due to the

sensitive nature of the topic, and

known concerns about privacy,

we took the unprecedented step of

offering to print comments without

attribution. Almost everyone took

us up on that offer. Each note below is from a different individual,

known to the



We sent out a set of seven questions, listed here. We received 45

responses from FS members in Washington, D.C., and overseas,

some entry-level and a few retired, from the foreign affairs agen-

cies, primarily State and USAID. The gender split was about even.

For space reasons, we are unable to publish all the responses in

full, so the individual commentaries have been trimmed. Specific

recommendations (primarily responses to Question 7) have been

extracted and are presented in one place

(see p. 44)


Based on the feedback, it became clear that issues relating to

family members, and in particular children, require a separate

discussion. We are therefore reserving the responses specific to

mental health and special needs care for FS children for an article

in a future issue of the


. It is too important a topic to relegate to

a sidebar.

Mental Health Services Check-Up:

Foreign Service

MembersWeigh In



The Questions:

1. Please share your experience with mental health issues

and mental health care in the Foreign Service.

2. How do you rate the mental health support offered to

members of the Foreign Service and eligible family members? If

improvements are needed, please share your suggestions.

3. To what extent do privacy concerns have an effect on

whether or not you seek mental health care?

4. To what extent do concerns about medical and security

clearances have an effect on whether or not you seek mental

health care?

5. Have you personally ever experienced a negative outcome

from seeking psychological help or reporting a history of men-

tal health treatment on your SF-86 (“Questionnaire for National

Security Positions”)?

6. Are you satisfied with the mental health support provided

for Foreign Service personnel heading to and returning from

high-threat assignments (such as the out briefing at FSI and the

Deployment Stress Management Program)? If you or someone

you know has sought help for symptoms of PTSD, what was

your experience?

7. What would you like to hear frommanagement regarding

mental health care in the Foreign Service?

—Shawn Dorman, Editor