Health and career are linked. Having an active federal security clearance or an interest in government work should not preclude anyone from seeking mental health treatment. However, some security clearance holders make a conscious decision to avoid seeking out the treatment they desperately need for fear of their career.
Untreated Mental Health Worse for Career
If this sounds like you, understand that very few security clearance cases involving mental health concerns ever rise to the level of a preliminary denial. Your career progress is more likely to stall if you leave a mental health problem untreated. Don’t cringe at the unfortunate stigma associated with talking to someone about your problems. Finding help and support is the honorable and responsible step to take.
Self Medication is Not the Answer
It’s also not helpful to try self-medicating with alcohol or drugs. Not only is that detrimental to your health, but it adds new security concerns about substance abuse and your judgment could be raised by taking the self-medication path. Recently, William Evanina, The National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) Director, recently announced that “seeking counseling or undergoing treatment to address psychological concerns resulting from having COVID-19, or from the associated stressful effects of COVID-19, is not in itself considered a negative or disqualifying factor when officials render eligibility determinations…”
Psych Evaluation is Not a Counseling Session
Of course, your psychological evaluation is not the time to process all of your struggles. When there’s a past history of psychiatric concerns or substance abuse problems, you may be asked to participate in one. While you are speaking with a psychologist, this isn’t the same as a clinical context. When your evaluation is linked to a security investigation, the psychologist is working for the government agency requesting the evaluation in order to report. Of course, if you need to have one as part of your security clearance processing or reevaluation, there’s nothing to fear, but keep in mind the purpose of the visit.
Getting Help Shows Personal Responsibility
But if your mental health is concerning you or others who are close to you, know that there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help. It is easier to defend a security clearance applicant who acknowledges a need for help – it shows personal responsibility.