In early February, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review whether the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are providing adequate mental health services and resources to department and agency employees who live and work outside of the United States.
Chairs Meeks, Maloney, Lynch wrote:
We are concerned that State Department and USAID employees experiencing mental health challenges may not be able to access mental health care services while serving abroad, or may refrain from seeking assistance if they are worried that disclosing personal mental health information will adversely affect their diplomatic careers or ability to hold a security clearance.
It is critical that the State Department and USAID recognize and take steps to address the mental health challenges of their personnel serving abroad. To that end, we request that GAO initiate a review that evaluates the following:
1.What policies, programs, and initiatives do the State Department and USAID have in place to identify, detect, and monitor mental health risks and conditions among Civil and Foreign Service employees serving abroad?
2.To what extent do the State Department and USAID take clinical and non-clinical mental health conditions, either disclosed by an employee or identified by a mental health care provider, into consideration when assigning them to work at an overseas post?
3.What stress management and mental health services do the State Department and USAID provide to employees serving at overseas posts?
4.What challenges or obstacles to accessing mental health resources and services have been identified by State Department and USAID employees serving at overseas posts?
The three Chairs also requested that GAO include “recommendations, as appropriate, for agency or congressional action” in their evaluation.
The letter to the GAO requesting the review is available to read here.