Well-being and crisis management

Foreign service officers are more effective and efficient when they know that their partner / spouse is OK, and partners / spouses who are well prepared for and supported in international relocations can be a great support for employees posted abroad, contributing positively to their adjustment and mental health. On the other hand, studies have shown that when expatriates leave their positions earlier than planned, spousal issues are the most common reason. When sending families abroad, it is therefore essential to adequately support not only employees, but also their families.

Research by EUFASA recently showed that MFA support is important for partners’ well-being; partners/spouses who knew that they had a Family Officer or other contact person at their MFA were less likely to have indications of personal burnout during the covid-19 pandemic, and those who knew that their MFA would evacuate them if necessary were significantly more resilient than those who did not. Read the research article; read EUFASA’s policy paper on supporting partners and spouses during a crisis; read the 2-page summary report.  EUFASA continues to actively share its findings with MFAs and to advocate for better support for partners and spouses during a crisis.


  • MFAs should provide diplomatic families with a Family Office or designated MFA contact person to actively communicate information directly to partners and spouses.
  • MFAs should offer pre-departure briefings for partners/spouses to help prepare them for international postings, including for example cross-cultural competencies, and disaster preparedness.
  • MFAs should ensure that partners, spouses and children all have continuous health insurance coverage and access to preventative and emergency care, including medical repatriation when necessary.
  • MFAs should ensure adequate, anonymous, and accessible psychological support for foreign service officers and their family members.
  • MFAs should commit to evacuating families when necessary, and let partners/spouses know that this support will be there if it is needed. Evacuation options and procedures (including the evacuation destination, who will be evacuated, and financial support for flights, cost of living, hotels, etc.) should be determined before a crisis happens.
  • MFAs should ensure secure housing, and when necessary, alarm systems and additional support to ensure safety.
  • Foreign service employees and families posted in high-risk areas (civil unrest, war, etc.) should receive additional time off/ allowances to reduce stress and protect their mental health.
  • MFAs should develop crisis plans and involve partners/families in information and drills.