Lying at meps about mental health?

In this article, we will discuss, if you can lie at meps about your mental health, the consequences of doing so and if you can join the military with a history of mental illness.

Should you lie about your mental health at meps?

No, joining the military can often be extremely stressful and hence you should be careful about your mental health. MEPS won’t have access to your personal records, but it’s always best to be honest. 

The US Department of Defense has a directive called Criteria and Procedure Requirements for Physical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Armed Forces that has a complete list of what mental health disorders exclude a person from serving in the military.

Penalties for False Enlistment As stated on the Army enlistment contract you sign, lying at MEPS regarding medical or mental health history is a terrible idea with serious implications. Recruits who pass their physical and have no prior history may be accepted because the military does not routinely pull medical information.

Read more about the negative outcomes of lying at meps here 

Can you serve in the US military with an existing mental health condition?

People with current mood disorders or a history of certain mental illnesses are ineligible to serve in the United States military. The United States Department of Defense has issued a directive outlining the mental health problems that exclude a person from serving in the military. 

Disqualifying mental health conditions 

If you have a current diagnosis or a history of most mental diseases, you are unable to serve in the United States military, according to the Department of Defense. Any psychotic disease, such as schizophrenia or delusional disorder, prevents a person from serving in the military.

If you have bipolar disorder or affective psychoses, you will be rejected. If a person has undergone outpatient care for more than 12 months or any inpatient care for depressive disorders (for example, major depressive disorder), they will be disqualified from the service. To be eligible to join, a person with a depressive disorder must be stable for 36 months without treatment or symptoms.

For anxiety disorders (such as panic disorder), a person cannot join the military if they have had inpatient or outpatient treatment for longer than 12 months. They must not have required any anxiety treatment in the previous 36 months.

Conduct disturbances, impulse control disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, or other personality or behaviour disorders marked by frequent confrontations with law enforcement agencies, as well as antisocial attitudes or behaviour, are grounds for dismissal from the military. Similarly, if a person’s personality, conduct, or behaviour disorder is deemed to be a major impediment to transitioning to military life, they may be prohibited from enrolling.

A history of anorexia or bulimia, a history of encopresis (soiling your underwear) after the age of 13, or a history of an expressive or receptive language impairment are all reasons for disqualification. If you have had therapy for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the last two years or it has been present since you were 14, you may be disqualified. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are likewise a no-no.

Other disqualifying mental health conditions include:

  • A history of obsessive-compulsive disorder or post-trauma
  • tic stress disorder
  • A history of or current dissociative, conversion, or factitious disorder, depersonalization, hypochondriasis, somatoform disorders, or pain disorder related to psychological factors or a somatoform disorder
  • A history of an adjustment disorder within the last six months, or recurrent episodes of adjustment disorder
  • A history of paraphilias like voyeurism or exhibitionism
  • A history of or current alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
  • A history of attempted suicide or suicidal behavior

Should you disregard these rules?

The issue isn’t with breaking the rules; it’s with the risk to the person who enlists. Enlistees who had mental problems previous to enrolling, for example, were more likely to have difficulty doing their job in the 2014 study. Furthermore, the laws make it unlikely that someone who develops a mental health problem while serving in the military will seek care. 

How are people circumventing the rules? It’s unclear why, but people discover ways to go around the rules, the most common of which is “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

While having mental health issues or a history of a significant mental disorder theoretically disqualifies you from serving in the military, evidence reveals that many people are breaking the rules.

 According to a 2014 study, 25% of non-deployed U.S. military troops suffer from a mental disease such as panic disorder, ADHD, or depression. Two-thirds of individuals had pre-existing ailments when they enlisted. 

More than 11% of US military enlistees had more than one disorder, according to the report. Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) was one of the most prevalent conditions discovered. 


In this article, we have discussed if you should lie about your mental health at meps, the consequences of doing so, if you can serve in the US military with a history of mental health conditions. We have also looked at disqualifying mental health conditions. 


Will you go to jail if you lie at meps?

No you won’t.  They just send you home with an entry level separation. It’s not entirely bad, but if you lied, they’d classify it as Fraudulent Enlistment, which would severely limit your ability to find work in the military and prevent you from reenlisting.

Can you join the military with a history of depression?

A person with a depressive disorder must be stable, without treatment or symptoms for a continuous 36 months, to be eligible to enlist

Can you get kicked out of the military for anxiety?

Servicemembers with “other identified physical and mental problems” who do not qualify for a disability discharge but “possibly interfere with assignment to or performance of duty” may be discharged by the military.

What prevents you from joining the military?

Age, citizenship, physical fitness, education, height/weight, criminal background, medical history, and drug history are all factors that can keep you out of the military.


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!