About a decade ago I was applying to a government job and got an interview, everything went well until they found out an incident in my past that involved a suicide attempt that they said was “troubling.” They asked me if I had any psychological problems since then and I replied no, but they still felt it troubling enough they told me to go to my doctor and get a “Clean bill of mental health” showing that I no longer had any suicide risks before reapplying for the job.
However after going to my family doctor he had no idea what they were talking about and going to the psychologist my insurance recommended involved my psychologist telling me the only way he’d give me a “clean bill of mental health” was if I did a full series of month-long sessions with him.
First, was the initial job literally just trying to make me go away and used the “clean bill” as an excuse. Second, does a clean bill of mental health even exist? And third, was that psychologist trying to make money off me by recommending me months of work?
If it was a national security position, then, yeah, it’s absolutely a thing, although I don’t think “clean bill of mental health” is the technical term. When I enlisted in the Army Reserves, because I had had therapy when I was younger, I had to have a psych eval. Now, Army recruiters didn’t just tell me “go to my doctor and get a clean bill of mental heath”; they set up an appointment for me with a doctor (I can’t remember if it was a psychologist or psychiatrist) they selected, who apparently did this sort of thing on a fairly regular basis, and told me to bring any records I had of my previous treatment. The doctor reviewed my records, interviewed me, and wrote up a report, which was added to my military personnel file. Effectively, it was a “clean bill of mental health”.
It can come up with pilot licensing - the authorities basically want some assurance you’re not going to off yourself with a plane full of passengers sitting behind you while you do it.
In that case, you’re off to a psychiatrist (that’s an MD, as opposed to a psychologist) who does an evaluation like gdave mentioned to determine the issue was a one-off that is now resolved and not an on-going chronic problem.
So yeah, sometimes it’s a legit concern. It’s unusual, though.
(bolding mind). How did this potential employer find out about this? This is the part that ended your candidacy.
The thing is, generally speaking medical records aren’t all in some database that can be conveniently searched. If you had simply not mentioned visiting a psychiatrist and not mentioned this suicide attempt, how would the government employer have found out about it?
As far as I know, the only way would involve, for the highest possible security clearances, an individual investigator spending weeks investigating just you. They could potentially call every single hospital and mental health clinic in every zip code you lived. Or obtain your banking records and find out every insurance provider you ever had, then obtain their records and find every payment made and the service code.
Except if you went to a clinic where you didn’t use insurance, then they’d have more difficulty.
It is not easy. And it would be extraordinarily expensive. For one thing, a call wouldn’t really be enough, they’d need to send each and every clinic a court order compelling them to release any information. I could see the government maybe going to these lengths for special clearances like “Yankee White” but not mere “Top Secret”.
Pretty sure Asuka told them. Which is fine, I think it’s a question somewhere on the form and lying or omitting anything on the form is a felony. All I am saying is, if you write a disqualifying event down that the government has no practical way to find out independently, you’re ending your own candidacy. You shouldn’t even waste time applying for the job. Did you ever use illegal drugs in private with some friends 4 years ago? End of your candidacy, even though there’s no realistic way the government is going to know. That sort of thing.
For many professions, there is an initial background check where the applicant signs a release (it may even be a limited power of attorney) allowing the entity access to otherwise inaccessible databases: juvenile records, medical records, etc… Not signing the release terminates the candidacy. It need not be .Gov or .mil positions either; I know that state Bar associations do things this way, and I suspect state Medical Boards do it too.
Further, the candidate is told that lying about the offense is going to ruin their candidacy faster than just about any offense. So tell the truth. Lies of omission are still lies. A drug offense, or drug use, like you use in your example, need not be disqualifying, though it will trigger further investigation into whether the candidate is an addict, a repeat offender, or is otherwise untrustworthy. Is the behavior that led to the offense or issue, still around to cause a further offense or issue? If not, then I don’t
believe it will be dispositive. People make mistakes in life, and can learn from them.
Lying about it skips all of those intermediate investigatory steps and tells them right away the candidate is untrustworthy.
Do a search for chefguy’s explanation of the background check and security clearance process. It was involved and informative.
I agree. However, everything a candidate admits that the government *wouldn’t *have found out anyway is one more thing reducing their chances. This suicide attempt is probably a 75% reduction in this candidate’s chances. (versus 100% if they are caught lying, like you said). And a signed document doesn’t let the government know which clinic to call. Can they figure it out from bank records or insurance records? It depends.
I’m… well fuckit, y’all already know my connection with the psychiatric field.
In case you don’t… for the benefit of such hypothetical person, I’m an escaped paranoid schizophrenic in the patients’ rights movement and have a very critical opinion of psychiatry, I oppose forced treatment in all cases and fully informed consent for all instances of pyschiatric medicine; I hold that the latter essentially would consist of the profession withdrawing all of its claims to know what the fuck it’s doing and to admit that the chemicals they prescribe are neither curative nor safe. Etc
Yeah, no one gets a clean bill of mental health. If you’ve ever, under any circumstances, received a psychiatric diagnosis, the future shrinks, assuming they know this, will most likely diagnose you as having the same thing, either “in remission” or as a an active / relapse occurrence.