Mental Health Degree
A mental health degree will educate a professional on counseling and rehabilitating a patient’s mind. Because a mental health degree can be applied to a number of different occupations, professionals will be able to pick a job that suits their interests.
Depending upon the state lived in and the level of education, a mental health degree can be applied towards jobs like:
- Social worker
For mental health professionals, a higher education level generally means they are able to select which patients to see and practice independently. Some mental health professionals with a master’s or doctoral degree can prescribe medication.
Mental health professionals with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may have to work for an organization or group practice. Generally they cannot choose which patients they must treat. They cannot prescribe medication for patients. Some mental health professionals in this category may only be able to apply for entry-level jobs.
Professionals should look for a program accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or a similar organization. Most licenses and voluntary certifications can only be applied for by professionals who attended an accredited program.
The required curriculum can vary by occupation, but common coursework for mental health professionals may include:
- Addictions counseling
- Family therapy
- Marriage therapy
- Substance abuse counseling
Mental health professionals should choose an area of expertise to specialize in during their education. Some popular specializations include:
- Marriage / relationship
- Substance abuse
A supervised internship is usually required for mental health professionals to graduate. It can range from as little as 1,200 hours for some psychologists to as much as 3,000 hours for some master’s level counselors. The internship offers a way for students to practice their training with real patients while still being supervised by a professor.
After graduation, a mental health professional typically needs a license to practice. An examination will need to be undergone for most licenses. Mental health professionals must renew their license on a regular basis. Some states require that a mental health professional submit evidence of continuing education when they renew their license. This can include a transcript of new collegiate courses taken, attending work seminars, or something similar. For those who will be working in schools, they may have to pass a background check or drug test.
Voluntary certifications can increase the chances of being hired or receiving a promotion and raise. Such certifications typically are offered by the occupation’s national body. For example, counselors can apply for the National Certified Counselor (NCC). The NCC is given by the National Board for Certified Counselors.