The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2016

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2016 35 A 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 FSJ . 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 FSJ . It is too important a topic to relegate to a sidebar. Mental Health Services Check-Up: Foreign Service MembersWeigh In FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH CARE FOR THE FOREIGN SERVICE 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