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J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
43
Expatriates who work in
relatively calm places and
have their families with
them frequently do not
receive the mental health
support they need.
“If someone who plans to take an
overseas job knows that they have is-
sues with depression, anxiety, or is a
recovering alcoholic, he or she is in a
much better position to heed the early
signs of distress and deal with them
appropriately before they get out of
control.”
In that regard, MED’s Rob Gial-
longo emphasizes that many pre-exist-
ing psychiatric conditions do not
preclude someone from working
abroad with the State Department.
“Certain conditions and their treat-
ments used to bar entry to the Foreign
Service, but they don’t now,” he says.
Admitting to having been de-
pressed or to having an anxiety disor-
der, for example, does not negatively
affect a security clearance. In fact,
having pursued treatment for mental
health conditions can be considered
positive.
Giallongo concurs that more
preparation for what it’s really like to
live overseas would be a great addi-
tion to the mental health services
State and USAID already offer. For
example, he notes, “Currently, only
those going to war zones get any kind
of training in how to deal with intense
stress and trauma.”
Happily, the Foreign Service Insti-
tute now offers classes, in cooperation
with MED, geared to helping employ-