Published on: Tuesday, August 8, 2023

The American Psychological Association is calling for the removal of mental health history questions for those seeking to become licensed attorneys, arguing that prospective lawyers shouldn't be required to reveal whether they've ever been treated for or diagnosed with a mental illness (press release available here).

Last week, the APA's Council of Representatives unanimously approved a policy opposing such screening of bar applicants to reveal their mental health history, the organization announced Monday. The APA said it pledges "to work alongside the American Bar Association and state bar associations to remove questions regarding mental health diagnoses or treatment history from character and fitness questionnaires."

In 2015, the ABA adopted its own resolution urging "state and territorial bar licensing entities to eliminate from applications required for admission to the bar any questions that ask about mental health history, diagnoses, or treatment and instead use questions that focus on conduct or behavior that impairs an applicant's ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner."

"Statistical data reveal that there is no connection between bar application questions about mental health and attorney misconduct and that such questions have not been empirically shown to work as a successful screening tool for who can and cannot practice law in a competent manner," the resolution says.