Clinton issues note on mental health; seeking help a sign of maturity and professionalism

Slightly over two years after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued the DOD guidance on the mental health question, the infamous Question 21 in SF 86 and strongly endorsed the practice of seeking professional help for mental and physical issues, the State Department, at the highest level of the 7th Floor — that’s the Secretary of State — has now publicly endorsed the practice of seeking professional help to address “unique stresses” including mental health issues. HRC writes that “No one at State has lost a clearance because he or she sought mental health counseling or treatment” and that “recognizing the need for help is a sign of maturity and professionalism.” We have previously posted about this here and here.

via Josh Rogin of The Cable:


Dear Friends and Colleagues:

As the summer winds down, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your hard work, commitment to excellence, and service to our country. At the State Department and USAID, we work long hours on complex problems with few clear-cut solutions. Many of you serve in dangerous and remote posts, often far away from friends and loved ones. Your dedication is inspiring, and you have my gratitude and that of President Obama and the American people as well.

I know that your service here comes with sacrifice, both for you and your families, and with unique stresses. We are committed to ensuring that every member of the State Department and USAID family has all the support they need. That’s why we’ve made it a priority to provide access to social workers and mental health counselors, a mandatory high-stress outbrief program and training for anyone who seeks it and particularly for those who are returning from or working with returnees from high-stress posts.

These are important resources and I hope more of you will take advantage of them in the future.

Seeking help is a sign of responsibility and it is not a threat to your security clearance. No one at State has lost a clearance because he or she sought mental health counseling or treatment. In fact, Diplomatic Security has advised that receiving recommended treatment for mental health concerns is a favorable factor during security clearance determinations. For all of us, managing our mental health is an essential part of maintaining our well-being, and recognizing the need for help is a sign of maturity and professionalism. Talking to someone can make all the difference in the world.

To learn more about the Department’s Deployment Stress Management Program and the resources available to you and your family through the State Department, I encourage you to visit MED’s website at:

If you have questions about security clearances, you can always contact the Office of Personnel Security and Suitability Customer Service Center at 1-866-643-4636 or send an e-mail to 

As we head into the fall and the holidays to come, please consider making use of the excellent programs and staff that are available.

We have a lot to do, and I know you are up to the job. I am proud of the work we are doing together every day on behalf of our nation. It is an honor to be your Secretary and I look forward to all we will continue to achieve together.

Sincerely yours,

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Related items:
DOD: Mental Health Questions, Standard Form (SF) 86, Questionnaire for National Security Positions

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