The Foreign Service Journal, October 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2023 67 AFSA NEWS family members. Those services include the employee assistance program (known as “staff care” at USAID), the deployment stress management program, and the alcohol and drug assistance program. ECS also provides crisis response, virtual support groups spanning eldercare, divorce, and mindfulness, and presentations on stress management, working with difficult supervisors, workplace conflict, and coping with transitions. Overseas, there are 21 regional medical officer psychiatrists (RMOPs) stationed internationally to provide short-term counseling and therapy. MED psychiatrists provide comprehensive mental health evaluations, treatment plan recommendations, and medication management. The section also offers voluntary medevacs for those seeking more intensive treatment not available at overseas posts. RMOPs travel frequently to reach out to embassy communities, and they work to vet local healthcare providers at post. They consult with mission leadership on morale issues, assess mental health support at international schools, assist with child learning (including helping FS members access the special needs education allowance, or SNEA), address allegations of child abuse or domestic violence, and respond to regional crises. The Mental Health Services office is currently preparing a list of mental health resources with worldwide availability, which vary in cost and may not be covered by health insurance, as well as a list of the 21 different therapy services covered by Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance. Moving forward, Dr. Kerrihard said MED is requesting increases in staffing and will work to reduce the stigma of seeking mental health care through advocacy, offer more in-person therapy options overseas through a pilot project with licensed clinical social workers, increase services for children and adolescents, and collect data to measure the effect of MED services on quality of live overseas. “Seeking mental health care is normal, healthy, and needs to be encouraged at all levels of our institution,” he said in closing. “I think [MED] has an excellent program, but I hope during my time here as director of the mental health program to improve our services.” A recording of the town hall can be found at https:// n MED Town Halls Continued from page 66