WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal employees who have been victims of sexual assault will no longer have to disclose that they sought mental health support following an attack when they fill out security clearance applications.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper issued new guidance Friday saying the change is important to encourage victims to seek counseling or mental health services. Victims may have been reluctant in the past to seek help for fear they would have to acknowledge it on their security form and risk being turned down for clearance needed to access classified information.

Anu Bhagwati, head of the Service Women's Action Network, called the change a major victory. She said calls to the group's helpline suggest that fears of answering the counseling question kept people from seeking mental health services.

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