Mental health awareness month is winding down, and we would remiss to neglect discussing the topic and offering a reminder to concerned security clearance holders and applicants – thanks to changes in the SF-86, it is not necessary to report counseling as a standard part of the security clearance process.

A revised version of the SF-86 released in November of 2016 clarified that only certain mental health conditions need to be listed on the SF-86, not standard counseling for stress, marital issues, PTSD, or other proactive mental health check-ins. Stigma remains a significant issue in various issues of the security clearance process, including mental health. But in recent years, and in the time span since COVID created serious workforce disruptions, the intelligence community has pushed hard to reinforce that mental health treatment is not a disqualifying factor in the clearance process.

The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) and National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), have had leaders provide a number of interviews to discuss the role of both policy and background investigations process when it comes to mental health – and to convey that it’s actually important to seek mental health treatment if you need it as a factor in maintaining your security clearance eligibility – it won’t cause you to lose it.

The very limited instances of an individual losing their clearance due to mental health issues are where the individual was not following through with a prescribed treatment plan.


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer