Psychological Conditions: Security Clearance Denials

According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, “Public opinion surveys suggest that many people think mental illness and violence go hand in hand. A 2006 national survey found, for example, that 60% of Americans thought that people with schizophrenia were likely to act violently toward someone else, while 32% thought that people with major depression were likely to do so.”

Harvard went on to say that research suggests that the public’s perception about mental disorders “does not reflect reality.” Instead, most of the people who are diagnosed with psychiatric disorders are not violent. Studies suggest “that violence by people with mental illness – like aggression in the general population – stems from multiple overlapping factors,” Harvard reports. These factors include:

  1. Family history
  2. Substance abuse (often plays a significant role)
  3. Socioeconomic factors, such as being poor or homeless
  4. Personal stress, such as divorce or loss of a loved one

Despite what Harvard says about mental illness and violence, the United States Government considers mental illness or psychological conditions to be a “red flag” when it comes to security clearance. While being diagnosed with Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) does not mean an applicant will be automatically denied Security Clearance, but it is possible.

Guideline I: Psychological Conditions of the Adjudicative Process explains the concern: “Certain emotional, mental, and personality conditions can impair judgement, reliability, or trustworthiness.” It continues, “A formal diagnoses of a disorder is not required for there to be a concern under this guideline.”

Is There a Concern About Your Mental Health?

If there was a concern over your mental state or a diagnosed psychological disorder, then a qualified clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, or another mental health professional approved by or accepted by the U.S. Government should be consulted about your application, and he or she should conduct their own evaluation.

If you have been denied security clearance for any reason due to your psychological state, we urge you to contact Claery & Hammond, LLC to speak with one of our security clearance attorneys about your legal options.