Personnel Security Teams Up With Clinicians to Address Mental Health Issues

The number of background investigations with psychological or mental health issues continue to rise and DoD personnel security adjudicators are having to collaborate with mental health professionals to evaluate the information. DoD’s Consolidated Adjudication Facility (DoD CAF) has staff psychologists available to consult with adjudicators and help review assessments completed through community clinicians. They do not, however, do their own assessments. There are disadvantages to using community clinicians because they are rarely trained in knowing what to look for regarding the nexus between mental health and national security and often fail to provide necessary information adjudicators need. This causes delays in the clearance process. Another procedural problem involves the collection of mental health information from the subject’s treatment provider. This has long been protocol for investigators, but the treatment provider experiences a conflict of interest and often has concerns about what can or should be shared with background investigators.

The Defense Personnel and Security Research Center (PERSEREC) completed studies on this and made recommendations on how best to overcome these challenges in the process.  Training an independent cadre of clinicians to assess judgment, reliability, and trustworthiness on behalf of the Federal Government is the way forward and the Defense Security Service professional education program will offer certification courses for clinicians to complete and become security-trained clinicians. Of course, a major consideration for the government is the cost of implementing this program, since clinicians would need compensation to train and conduct assessments.

You can read the full report here.

To dispel some myths, not all mental health disorders are a security concern and most can be mitigated with treatment, counseling, and medication. The key is to be proactive and get assistance if needed.