Claery & Hammond, LLP

Mental Disorders & Security Clearance

When it comes to our personal and professional lives, it’s important to be sensitive and aware of our mental health, because a mental disorder can have far-reaching effects. According to an article written by Berit Brogaard D.M.Sci., Ph.D in Psychology Today, “Psychologists define a psychological disorder broadly as a psychological dysfunction in an individual that is associated with distress or impairment and a reaction that is not culturally expected.” Brogaard goes on to say, “Psychological dysfunction refers to the cessation of purposeful functioning and cognition, emotions or behavior.”

In an article published in PsychCentral, John M. Grohol, Psy.D. provided a list of mental disorders, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • Clinical Depression
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Substance Abuse
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social Anxiety Phobia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

To learn more about psychological disorders, click here to gain access to information from the Society of Clinical Psychology.

Can a Psychological Disorder Affect Security Clearance?

If you are applying for Security Clearance, you’re probably aware of the “adjudicative process,” which examines a sufficient period of your life to determine if you’re an acceptable “security risk.” The adjudicative process will look at many aspects of your personal life, including any criminal conduct, Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, alcohol consumption, any history of drug abuse, and “psychological conditions.”

Under Guideline I: Psychological Conditions, the concern is that certain mental disorders can impair a person’s reliability, trustworthiness, or judgement. According to Guideline I, “A formal diagnoses of a disorder is not required for there to be a concern under this guideline.” However, the Guideline goes on to state, “No negative inference concerning the standards in this Guideline may be raised solely on the basis of seeking mental health counseling.”

Can a person be denied security clearance because of a mental or psychological disorder? In a word – yes. However, just because a security clearance is denied for mental health reasons, that does not mean it is reasonable. In many cases, such a denial is subject to challenge.

Has your security clearance application been denied because of a psychological disorder? If so, we urge you to contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to discuss this issue in further detail and to determine what type of legal recourse you may have. Let our security clearance attorneys be of great assistance to you!