The overall mental health of an individual plays a key role in all aspects of their lives, including their profession. As such, it is no wonder that mental health is a security concern, especially for people who work in sensitive areas and have access to classified information. The main reason is that a person’s mental health impacts how they perceive the world, how they manage stress, and how they make decisions. This however, should not imply that a person who has suffered a mental, emotional or psychological condition will automatically not be granted access to classified information. The main concern is whether the mental health issues may cause dysfunctional behavior and or poor judgment.
It is common for almost everyone to experience a form of stress that has a negative impact on their self-image at some point in life. Some of the common work-related experiences include the inability to effectively compete with peers, being terminated under unclear circumstances that lead to resentment, or injustice at the hands of a superior at their place of work. For individuals who are emotionally stable, it is easier for them to respond to these experiences in positive ways. They learn from them, work harder, and adjust their expectations. On the other hand, people who are unstable will find it harder to adjust and may resort to self-destructive, illegal, or counterproductive behavior. This, in turn, affects the organization they work for negatively.
As already stated, the security significance of a psychological condition is reliant on the condition’s ability to affect the judgment, trustworthiness, and reliability of the individual. The severity of the condition, meaning the duration of the symptoms and its intensity, are also major factors that are considered. Another important aspect is whether this condition is responsive to treatment and whether the individual has received appropriate treatment. At this point, a qualified mental health consultant’s role is to analyze all these factors and look at possible recurrence in order to determine what might happen in the future.
It is also worth mentioning that some mental health conditions are not related to security issues. Additionally, some of these mental health issues can be mitigated using ongoing treatment as well as other factors. If there are cases indicating a psychological condition, there should be additional inquiries, followed by a consultation with a qualified mental health professional.
The mental health professional’s role is mainly to evaluate the individual and advise the adjudicator about the significance of this person’s behavior. This professional will assess a person’s behavior and how it relates to security concerns. They also determine whether they have a condition that needs treatment or counseling, and maybe a prognosis for future patterns of behavior. Take note that with all the important roles that a mental health professional plays, it remains the responsibility of the adjudicator to use all the available information to judge whether the individual meets the set standards of trustworthiness, reliability, and good judgment.