Q21 related questions to references

SF 86 Q21.

I’m going through my TS/SCI renewal. I have worked in SCIF and SAP. I disclosed in Q21 my Mental Health Diagnosis and provided signed a Medical released form. I’ve been under treatment for years. But I don’t disclose my Illness to people that don’t have a need to know. . I’m doing my work very well. Throughout my career, I have received excellent reviews and top civilians awards.

Besides the questions ask to the Mental health MD that we see for treatment, what kind of questions BI ask to references, supervisors, and/or neighbors about an employee’s Mental illness or behavior? Or will that be a HIPAA violation. Thanks for your replies.

A BI will ask references to describe your mental and emotional stability along with questions relating to your general character and conduct


They won’t ask “do you know anything about that time he was committed?” If that is what you are asking. They focus on behaviors at work and off duty. So if your conduct at work is stable and you are well accomplished the work history and behavior speaks for itself. If you have any mental condition, treated by meds, therapy or both, and it is under control…you are fine. Depression and other concerns are very real situations many of us face. We are long past due understanding and demonstrating some compassion for folks in these situations.

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Thanks for your prompt reply. Thankfully I noticed the symptoms and I voluntarily sought help. I have never been committed.

But isn’t that a cue for the people that don’t have a need to know the that the employee or friend have a mental condition? Would the BI ask the same questions about other employees under investigation?

Also, the reason I asked what the people will be asked, I misunderstood Q21 under How you EVER been diagnosed - PROVIDE EXPLANATION. I provided too much information. The Security Officer at the previous DoD agency I used to work reviewed my SF 86 and did not say anything that I provided extensive HIPAA /PII information. He did not tell me be concise and leave the details for the interview.

The BI currently conducting my TS/SCI AKA Tier 5 is a bit mad for all the details I put in the SF86 about my mental well being. I guess that makes his investigation more complicated.

I wish my previous FSO would have warned me or provided more guidance. That was an updated SF 86 form. I thought I needed to provide the history on how my diagnostic was identified and the symptoms I had. I don’t have anyone to coach me. I live by myself. I wish I knew about this FORUM before I completed my SF -86. I did not know either there are SF 86 consultant services that could have guided me with Q21.

The form I submitted in 2018 had Q21 worded differently than the SF86 I filled out in 2011. I did not have to identify the specific mental condition and provide an explanation. I know SF86 Q21 was updated after the 2013 Washington Naval mass shooting in where 12 people were killed and the employee had obvious signs of mental illness.

Although I’m talkative and verbose, I never discuss my work with my friends not even with my closed relatives. Most of my discussions are about family, the challenges dealing with an elderly father and asking for reference for plumbers, mechanics, and electrician. I don’t think they know what I do for a living besides that I’m a DoD employee.

In 2018 I transferred to another DoD agency where I used to work 13 years ago. Due to backlog the clearance investigation started on March 2019. I asked in November the new DoD FSO about the status of my TS/SCI clearance. He told me per JPAS is still in the investigation phase.

Now I feel like an idiot. I’m afraid that I provided too much information in Q21, and it will backfire me. My job is my only source of income, and I support my elderly father. I’m super stressed out for my ignorance. I should have stated Diagnosed by Dr. XYZ. Currently treated by Dr. ABC.

No, it is the opposite. All candidates have their workmates and references, neighbors etc asked the generic question of "are there indicators for or against their mental stability. That is for one with zero history of treatment (not saying they have no issues), to those with extensive history of treatment (not saying they have actual issues). If your work history is solid, and you are reasonably easy to get along with at work…most folks would say “no issues.” If you are particularly quirky or difficult…some MAY bring that up but it may be unrelated to any issue you are treated for. A few years ago a really isolated guy who lost his loving wife of 30 years tried getting out into the workspace again. He had crushing grief and was being treated for this. He was very much concerned about his ability to function. Because our work required him to be alone with his thoughts a significant amount of time…he sadly resigned. He came back and tried again but he just wasn’t ready to work. So being under treatment doesn’t mean you cannot be cleared or you are a threat to self or others. But, if you live a life indicating you are threat to self and others…this is where it changes. Nobody wants an active shooter, or one who will sabotage their government. This is what those questions are asking about. Are you a threat to self and others or government classified? If not, no worries. You could simply say you see a therapist and here is the address. The BI folks are trained how to interact with the doctors and staff and how to protect that info from coworkers.

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Just a nuance here, but Q21 on the the most recent SF86 does not require you to list mental healthcare related therapies/diagnosis if they are related to anxiety or depression. It only requires reporting for more severe/uncommon mental ailments like schizophrenia. However, that is within reason. If you were hospitalized for depression related event then that would be something you would have to report.

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