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Security Clearance

A security clearance is a status granted to individuals allowing them access to classified information. Those trying to get a clearance may have questions such as how does one go about attaining a clearance? And, what are the different levels? As well as other questions. This area will allow those that have clearances offer advice and suggestions to those inquiring about clearances or upgrading their clearances.

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cawlidgekid  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, July 12, 2017 10:48:55 PM(UTC)
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Hello all. Sorry for the long post, but I am in need of advice regarding how I should fill out section 21 on the SF86 (regarding mental health) as I begin the process to receive a TS/SCI Clearance.

Here's my background: When I was 16 years old (this is within the time frame that my SF86 covers... I am still young), I met with a therapist for a couple of months to help deal with normal teenage issues that I was struggling with (family disputes, relationship struggles, growing up, etc). This therapist was NOT medically licensed. However, the therapist at one point was concerned, and referred me to a licensed, medical professional to test me for clinical depression. I met with this health care professional to fill out a written questionnaire, asking questions such as "do you torture animals" and "do your emotions routinely prevent you from sleeping", etc. A week later, my family received a phone call saying that I did NOT have any mental health issues from a medical standpoint, and no treatment was recommended. I never had any contact with the health care provider after that phone call. A few years later, I went off to college on a D1 athletic scholarship, but was badly injured freshman year, and ultimately forced to quit my sport. I then saw a sports psychologist for nearly a year to help me deal with depression-like symptoms regarding my situation, and to help me transition from the sporting world to being a normal college student.

SO... Regarding the SF86, I am confused as to how to answer the question "...have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition?"

Any advice on how I should answer this question? I am confused primarily for the following two reasons

1) I am unsure if either my therapist or sports psychologist would be considered "health care professionals." I would guess no, but no distinction is clearly made between a therapist, counselor, and medically-licsenced psychiatrist on the SF86. Furthermore, the rest of section 21 on the SF86 implies that some people receive help from "health care providers" for martial and familial issues, which I would guess would be done by non-medically trained professionals like the therapist my 16 year old self had. This confuses me further.
2) Regarding my one time meeting with a medically trained health care provider, I am still unsure if I would have to answer the question "yes" due to the fact that I was told I that had no medical mental health issues and that I was simply a hormonal teenager.

So, how should I answer this question? I appreciate any advice or input that y'all have. Thank you in advance!!!!



Bonus question: I've heard that mental health is rarely a cause of security clearance issues. Can anybody here confirm or deny this? Should I be worried that this may cause an issue?
someoldguy  
#2 Posted : Thursday, July 13, 2017 2:51:01 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: cawlidgekid Go to Quoted Post
Bonus question: I've heard that mental health is rarely a cause of security clearance issues. Can anybody here confirm or deny this? Should I be worried that this may cause an issue?

Treatment for mental health issues, even taking prescribed medications, is not that uncommon anymore and the security clearance folks understand this. I'm sure there are certain situations that would give them concern, but I've no idea where the threshold is.

The most common reason people get denied a clearance is financial issues. I'm sure some people get denied for mental health reasons but I'll wager these are folks who are not seeking treatment or are not taking their medications or generally not admitting they have a problem. I'm also sure some folks do not disclose their mental health history and if the investigator discovers it then they will have a problem.

Are you sure you have to report something that happened when you were 16? Read the questions carefully, I'm not sure that issues from before age 18 have to be reported.
DISCLAIMER: You read it on an open internet forum :)
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cawlidgekid on 7/15/2017(UTC)
cawlidgekid  
#3 Posted : Thursday, July 13, 2017 4:06:50 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: someoldguy Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: cawlidgekid Go to Quoted Post
Bonus question: I've heard that mental health is rarely a cause of security clearance issues. Can anybody here confirm or deny this? Should I be worried that this may cause an issue?

Treatment for mental health issues, even taking prescribed medications, is not that uncommon anymore and the security clearance folks understand this. I'm sure there are certain situations that would give them concern, but I've no idea where the threshold is.

The most common reason people get denied a clearance is financial issues. I'm sure some people get denied for mental health reasons but I'll wager these are folks who are not seeking treatment or are not taking their medications or generally not admitting they have a problem. I'm also sure some folks do not disclose their mental health history and if the investigator discovers it then they will have a problem.

Are you sure you have to report something that happened when you were 16? Read the questions carefully, I'm not sure that issues from before age 18 have to be reported.


Thanks for your response. I highly doubt this will be an issue for me, I just want to make sure I fill out the SF86 properly to ensure as smooth of an investigation as possible. Nor do I want to get dinged for withholding information.

As far as my age goes, Im unsure if I have to go back to age 16 or not... some of the questions on the SF86 form specifically say not to go back to before 18, but some do not say that. The mental health question did NOT include that memo in the fine print, though I will certainly go back and double check now.

Even if I wouldn't need to report that 16 y/o event though, I'd still need to know if consulting a sports psychologist to help with depression-like symptoms would need to be reported. Do you have any advice regarding that?

Thanks again for responding! I appreciate it
BackGdInvestigator  
#4 Posted : Friday, July 14, 2017 8:15:38 AM(UTC)

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Did you have treatment or see someone for mental health care that was not one of the exclusions? if in doubt, report it. Not reporting the treatment and having it developed later slows your clearance.


the "18 year old" rule only applies to residence,education, and employment. Always read the questions literally and individually.

*DISCLAIMER*Correctly filling out your security forms will not guarantee you a clearance in 3 months BUT be sloppy and your case will be in the field a heck of a lot longer, guaranteed.
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Fed Investigator on 7/14/2017(UTC), cawlidgekid on 7/15/2017(UTC)
cawlidgekid  
#5 Posted : Saturday, July 15, 2017 10:44:22 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: BackGdInvestigator Go to Quoted Post
Did you have treatment or see someone for mental health care that was not one of the exclusions? if in doubt, report it. Not reporting the treatment and having it developed later slows your clearance.


the "18 year old" rule only applies to residence,education, and employment. Always read the questions literally and individually.



Thank you for your response!

Since my episode as a 16 year old was due to familial issues, I guess that counts as one of the exclusions and I therefore shouldn't list it.

Since me seeing a sports psychologist at age 18 was due to sadness linked to life changing physical trauma, it's not excluded. I guess I'm just still confused as to what would be considered "mental health treatment." Would taking pills to under the guidance of a psychiatrist count? Yes, I'd imagine that would count for sure. Would asking a clergy member for prayer because you've been sad for a while count? I would assume not. I'm just still not sure if seeing a sports psychologist would count or not.

I guess I'll take your advice to; "if in doubt, report it"... unless you or anybody else could offer further comment as to whether or not meeting with a sports psychologist would be considered receiving mental health treatment.

Thank you again!

frankgonzalez  
#6 Posted : Monday, July 17, 2017 3:20:32 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: cawlidgekid Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: BackGdInvestigator Go to Quoted Post
Did you have treatment or see someone for mental health care that was not one of the exclusions? if in doubt, report it. Not reporting the treatment and having it developed later slows your clearance.


the "18 year old" rule only applies to residence,education, and employment. Always read the questions literally and individually.



Thank you for your response!

Since my episode as a 16 year old was due to familial issues, I guess that counts as one of the exclusions and I therefore shouldn't list it.

Since me seeing a sports psychologist at age 18 was due to sadness linked to life changing physical trauma, it's not excluded. I guess I'm just still confused as to what would be considered "mental health treatment." Would taking pills to under the guidance of a psychiatrist count? Yes, I'd imagine that would count for sure. Would asking a clergy member for prayer because you've been sad for a while count? I would assume not. I'm just still not sure if seeing a sports psychologist would count or not.

I guess I'll take your advice to; "if in doubt, report it"... unless you or anybody else could offer further comment as to whether or not meeting with a sports psychologist would be considered receiving mental health treatment.

Thank you again!

The key word is "psychologist". So yes...you would list it. Same for LCSW, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Counselor, etc. Just because the word "sports" precedes it, does not change the function of the job. It just means they specialize in athletes and their issues.
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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cawlidgekid on 7/17/2017(UTC)
cawlidgekid  
#7 Posted : Monday, July 17, 2017 8:01:33 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: cawlidgekid Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: BackGdInvestigator Go to Quoted Post
Did you have treatment or see someone for mental health care that was not one of the exclusions? if in doubt, report it. Not reporting the treatment and having it developed later slows your clearance.


the "18 year old" rule only applies to residence,education, and employment. Always read the questions literally and individually.



Thank you for your response!

Since my episode as a 16 year old was due to familial issues, I guess that counts as one of the exclusions and I therefore shouldn't list it.

Since me seeing a sports psychologist at age 18 was due to sadness linked to life changing physical trauma, it's not excluded. I guess I'm just still confused as to what would be considered "mental health treatment." Would taking pills to under the guidance of a psychiatrist count? Yes, I'd imagine that would count for sure. Would asking a clergy member for prayer because you've been sad for a while count? I would assume not. I'm just still not sure if seeing a sports psychologist would count or not.

I guess I'll take your advice to; "if in doubt, report it"... unless you or anybody else could offer further comment as to whether or not meeting with a sports psychologist would be considered receiving mental health treatment.

Thank you again!

The key word is "psychologist". So yes...you would list it. Same for LCSW, Psychiatrist, Mental Health Counselor, etc. Just because the word "sports" precedes it, does not change the function of the job. It just means they specialize in athletes and their issues.


Thanks for the explicit clarification. I guess that I just never thought about seeing a sports psychologist as having a history of mental health problems.

I'll be listing the dates when I saw the sports psychologist. Thank you to you and everybody else who pitched in their advice.
Fed Investigator  
#8 Posted : Monday, July 17, 2017 8:19:39 PM(UTC)
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I wouldn't go so far as to call it, 'a history of mental health problems.'
cawlidgekid  
#9 Posted : Monday, July 17, 2017 8:47:55 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Fed Investigator Go to Quoted Post
I wouldn't go so far as to call it, 'a history of mental health problems.'



I agree... my previous wording was certainly extreme.

frankgonzalez  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, July 18, 2017 3:33:14 AM(UTC)
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Your world got knocked off track due to a physical injury which impacted your future plans. You sought out help from an expert to help you adjust to the new reality.

Seeking out and seeing a mental health professional is NOT a clearance killer. Getting SENT to a mental health professional is a bigger problem.
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
Fed Investigator  
#11 Posted : Tuesday, July 18, 2017 5:24:49 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Your world got knocked off track due to a physical injury which impacted your future plans. You sought out help from an expert to help you adjust to the new reality.

Seeking out and seeing a mental health professional is NOT a clearance killer. Getting SENT to a mental health professional is a bigger problem.


Exactly.

Or not listing it and have a friend or relative tell the investigator, 'you know, I think he might have had some counseling when he was younger...'

Now once was a nothing-burger just turned into a large extra scrutiny sandwich.
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cawlidgekid on 7/18/2017(UTC)
cawlidgekid  
#12 Posted : Tuesday, July 18, 2017 7:42:15 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Your world got knocked off track due to a physical injury which impacted your future plans. You sought out help from an expert to help you adjust to the new reality.

Seeking out and seeing a mental health professional is NOT a clearance killer. Getting SENT to a mental health professional is a bigger problem.


Thanks for the reassurance. I'm confident that these events shouldn't have any large impact on my clearance. I'm more worried that filling out the SF86 improperly will either cause delays, or that my improper answers will make it seem like I'm hiding something (like the hypothetical Fed Investigator pointed out).
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