The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2016

26 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2016 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL E mployee Consultation Services can help members of the foreign affairs commu- nity resolve workplace and interpersonal concerns. ECS provides short-term counseling to individuals, couples and families. Requests for services often include workplace stress, work-life bal- ance, strengthening relationships, elder- care concerns, parenting, anxiety, stress, depression, isolation, life transitions and grief or loss. Working in collaboration with our medical colleagues in the field, our goal is to support the health and well-being of America’s diplomatic community. We also offer services to Civil Service employees. Mental Health and ECS—What You Should Know The State Department’s Employee Consultation Services, a part of MED’S Mental Health Services, can help members of the foreign affairs community resolve workplace and interpersonal concerns. BY CHANTAY WH I TE AND PAUL ETTE BALDWI N Chantay White, PhD, is a supervisory social worker and chief of the Employee Assistance Programwith the State Department Employee Con- sultation Services. A Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker with Board Certified Diplomate status, she has been in practice for 20 years. She previously served for two years as the State Department's director of deployment stress management, after serving two years in Baghdad. She has 16 years of military experience with the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. Paulette Baldwin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 16 years of varied practice. In addition to service at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, she has served as clinical director of the Prince George’s County Mental Health and Disabilities Administration and as senior director for clinical services at Center for the Homeless, Inc. FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR THE FOREIGN SERVICE Referral information for services outside of the department is also available when indicated or upon request. Here are some frequently asked questions and the answers. What are some of the barriers identified by members of the Foreign Service to seeking emotional or mental health support? The fear of being labeled or stigmatized as mentally ill remains a barrier to treatment throughout our culture, and the Foreign Ser- vice is no different in this regard. In addition, FS members tend to hold themselves to a very high standard. We often hear statements like, “I should be able to handle this. I’m educated, well-trained and speak many languages; I should be able to shake this off.” Many people perceive seeking help as a personal weakness rather than an act of courage, believing “I should just suck it up.” Chal- lenges in life circumstances can happen to anyone. However, help is available so that no one has to suffer in silence. What happens to my medical and security clearance if I consult with an ECS clinician? The medical clearance and security clearance processes are two separate and independent actions. The purpose of a medi- cal clearance is to identify specific health needs and medical conditions that may require specialty management, follow-up or monitoring. The goal is to enhance an individual’s well-being by improving access to care. The security clearance process is not specific to medical or mental health treatment, and Diplomatic Security does not have access to medical records. Further, ECS clinicians do not document in the official medi-