Does a 302 Show Up on a Background Check?

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Updated · Aug 01, 2023

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Lorie Tonogbanua
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Lorie Tonogbanua


Lorie Tonogbanua
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
Lorie Tonogbanua

Lorie is an English Language and Literature graduate passionate about writing, research, and learnin... | See full bio

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Background checks are crucial when vetting potential employees, tenants, or other types of applicants as they reveal information relevant to their eligibility for the role.

That said, “Does a 302 show up on a background check?” becomes an important question, as involuntary mental health commitment may disqualify certain applicants. 

Thankfully, a typical background check excludes mental health records since they are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

It is also important to understand what your background check consists of before agreeing to them. 

But there are still some exceptions that we review below!

What Is a 302?

Section 302 is a regulation under Article III of the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act that allows the state to involuntarily detain and check for mental illness persons who are a danger to themselves, those around them, and the environment.

Once a 302 is authorized and processed, detainees must be released after 120 hours unless a 303 for an extended involuntary treatment is filed.

Note: Other U.S. states enforce equivalent statutes with similar provisions.

Does a 302 Show Up on a Background Check?

In general, background checks do not include medical records of any kind, regardless of the applicant’s state of residence, as the aforementioned federal act protects them.

Nonetheless, certain sensitive positions, especially those in law enforcement, federal government jobs, and medical professions, require applicants to pass a mental health check—a procedure that often also looks at the candidate’s past mental history.

Gun owners are also affected by involuntary mental health checks as they are disqualified from handling firearms according to the Federal Firearms Prohibition under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(4), which prevents the sale of guns to persons with mental issues.

Would Mental Health Records Show Up for Employment?

Individuals whose mental health issues lead to certain crimes or other types of offenses will be revealed in standard background checks as part of their criminal history.

For instance, employers and landlords conducting checks in Pennsylvania will likely learn about a 302 on an applicant’s record if it was connected to a past crime.

However, criminal records can be expunged under certain circumstances and/or disappear after a set number of years, depending on the offender’s state laws.

In any case, regardless of whether or not employers are able to access the candidate’s medical records, they are prohibited from basing their hiring decision on them.

What Mental Health Issues Go on Your Record?

In addition to an involuntary detainment, other mental health-related issues and actions may also pop up on a background check, especially if they are crime-related:

  • Mental health hospital visits—a mental hospital visit will appear on a person’s medical record, but it won’t be part of a background check unless it is related to a crime;
  • Psych ward admittance—regardless of the situation, if the person is admitted to a psych ward, it will become a part of their medical history; however, this information is protected by law and can only be disclosed by law enforcement agencies;
  • Going to rehab—similar to a mental hospital stay, unless the person was court-ordered to go to rehab, it won’t end up on their public criminal record;
  • Going to therapy—this information can wind up on a person’s record only if the visits are made mandatory by a court; however, it can only be obtained with a court order, and centers that release them freely will face legal consequences;
  • Wellness checks—wellness checks are conducted by the police and will appear on a person’s criminal report only if there’s a related arrest on record;
  • Seeing a psychiatrist—the only parties that can access these medical records are insurance companies, healthcare providers, and law enforcement agencies; still, this data is protected by law, and will not be released against the person’s will.

As you can see, your medical history is protected by law and will not appear on a standard background check if the incident has not been recorded as part of a crime.

Bottom Line

Does a 302 show up on a background check? In general, your mental health records are considered sensitive health information and, as such, are protected under federal law.

While it is possible to find the owner of a phone number and their address through background check tools, accessing health information such as a 302 is illegal. 

That said, with sufficient cause and legal exemptions, such as those involving court orders and working in mental health institutions, your records will matter and may be accessed.

It is important to remember that background checks may take time and it is possible to remove personal information from a background in the U.S. 


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