Mental health is a sensitive subject that is associated with a lot of stigmas. Because of this, people are often scared to seek treatment for mental conditions because of the fear that the records might show up later whenever a background check on them is requested.
However, do background checks actually reveal previous mental health issues?
Mental Health Records and Background Checks
Every doctor has the legal obligation to conceal your medical history. Thus, your mental, physical and psychological records for hospital visits are confidential. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean they are off-limits.
Like any other law, there is an exception to doctor-patient confidentiality. Before getting employed, most employers conduct a background check to gauge your eligibility for the job. Luckily, mental health records barely show up in routine background checks as they focus on criminal records.
Besides, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) and EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) disapprove. Therefore, the two organizations discourage employers from accessing the mental records of potential employees in background checks.
Mental Records in Sensitive Fields
While routine employment screening background checks don’t include access to mental records, some fields need to do so due to the sensitivity of their work.
For example, some areas like law enforcement or military recruitment and agencies will need an eligible candidate to pass the mental health check.
Therefore, you will be tested for mental health during your recruitment to these fields, and your previous mental health records will be deemed insignificant.
Applying for a Job in a Different Country with a History of Mental Illness
If you have had any mental illness before and seek employment in a foreign country, what happens? Do other countries have these background checks, and will your mental health records be accessed?
Speaking of a specific case in Canada, the Toronto Police Service made a public announcement sometime back.
In their statement, the service announced they would not be releasing any non-criminal mental illness encounters. Non-criminal mental concerns include psychological crises and suicide attempts.
In previous years, people from Ontario with records of mental health problems that involved police responses lost employment opportunities. The release of non-conviction health records to employers did more harm than good. Luckily, more and more cities are eradicating the archaic practice.
However, whether your mental record will be accessed also depends on where you are seeking employment. Again, rules vary, so it is essential to research the regulations of the state or country.
Always Seek Treatment
Given the sensitive nature of background checks when seeking employment and fear of stigma, many people shy from seeking help. Moreover, it is sad how the media and some public sources portray mental illness negatively.
Fortunately, the population and the government are now becoming more aware of and spreading awareness on mental health. Furthermore, by abolishing access to non-criminal mental records, there is no longer a reason not to seek help.
So, if you are suffering from mental illness, getting a diagnosis is not a show of instability. Many young people are battling depression and anxiety, and it is expected that everyone suffers a mental health illness in their lives. Seeking treatment will help address any issues early and will help you better manage them.
Background checks barely reveal any non-criminal health records you have, depending on the laws of your state or country.
Moreover, doctors hold high regard for patient confidentiality, and a basic search does not warrant access to this information. So, there is absolutely nothing to worry about!