Psychological conditions are as serious as they are common. Almost one in five Americans suffers from some form of mental illness. Due to a history of stigma associated with mental illness and its treatment, the adjudicative guideline for psychological conditions provides that no negative inference may be raised solely on the basis of receiving mental health counseling.
Like Alcohol Consumption (Guideline G) and Drug Involvement (Guideline H) cases, Psychological Condition cases are analyzed by looking at an individual obtaining professional treatment, following the professional’s advice, and having the individual show a commitment to continue to follow the professional’s advice.
In formulating its analysis of whether an employee should hold a security clearance, DOHA looks at whether medication can control the individual’s symptoms, whether the individual can be relied upon to take the medication as prescribed, and whether the problems which formed the basis of the SOR are now over.
Finally, similar to Alcohol Consumption and Drug Involvement cases, sometimes the determination of whether or not to grant a security clearance is dependent upon how much time has passed between a psychological episode and the period of remission.
The Concern: Certain emotional, mental, and personality conditions can impair judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness. A formal diagnosis of a disorder is not required for there to be a concern under this guideline. A duly qualified mental health professional (e.g., clinical psychologist or psychiatrist) employed by, or acceptable to and approved by the U.S. Government, should be consulted when evaluating potentially disqualifying and mitigating information under this guideline. No negative inference concerning the standards in this Guideline may be raised solely on the basis of seeking mental health counseling.
Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
(a) behavior that casts doubt on an individual’s judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness that is not covered under any other guideline, including but not limited to emotionally unstable, irresponsible, dysfunctional, violent, paranoid, or bizarre behavior;
(b) an opinion by a duly qualified mental health professional that the individual has a condition not covered under any other guideline that may impair judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness;
(c) the individual has failed to follow treatment advice related to a diagnosed emotional, mental, or personality condition, e.g. failure to take prescribed medication.
Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:
(a) the identified condition is readily controllable with treatment, and the individual has demonstrated ongoing and consistent compliance with the treatment plan;
(b) the individual has voluntarily entered a counseling or treatment program for a condition that is amenable to treatment, and the individual is currently receiving counseling or treatment with a favorable prognosis by a duly qualified mental health professional;
(c) recent opinion by a duly qualified mental health professional employed by, or acceptable to and approved by the U.S. Government that an individual’s previous condition is under control or in remission, and has a low probability of recurrence or exacerbation;
(d) the past emotional instability was a temporary condition (e.g., one caused by a death, illness, or marital breakup), the situation has been resolved, and the individual no longer shows indications of emotional instability;
(e) there is no indication of a current problem.