THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
In preparing the focus on mental health care for the Foreign Service in the January-February issue of the FSJ , we invited members to respond to a set of questions concerning their experience with menta
health services. Due to the sensitive nature of the
subject, and known concerns about privacy, we took
the unprecedented step of offering to print comments
Based on the significant and substantive
response, it was clear that issues relating to support for family mem-
bers, and particularly FS children, needed a separate discussion.
Here then are the comments we received concerning mental health
and special needs support for FS children, presented as an opener
to that important discussion.
A vital aspect of this topic, support for FS children diagnosed
with special needs, is addressed in this month’s Speaking Out col-
umn(see p. 17
Mental Health Support for
Foreign Service Children:
Parents Weigh In
FS children are just as at risk for mental health problems as the average American
child, perhaps even more vulnerable. This is a critical issue for FS families.
The Video Option
n many locations, mental health services are poor. Language
barriers only worsen this situation. The regional psychiatrist
is capable of providing digital video camera (DVC) counseling,
and other services such as the Employee Consultation Service
also help. There are very insufficient services for children. Most
local child psychiatrists speak a different native language than
the children and are of no help. The regional psychiatrists are
more capable of assisting adults. This leaves the children without
Psychiatry and counseling can be effectively conducted
remotely using DVC if parents and schools are supportive. It
should be mandatory that each post have this capacity.