In this article, we will describe how you can choose the best mental health degree for your career. You will learn about the different types of mental health degrees that you can earn and the common courses that are required to earn a mental health degree. Also, we will provide you with information about the best online mental health degree programs.
What Is a Mental Health Degree?
A mental health degree is a degree that focuses on mental health counseling. It will teach you how to deal with patients or clients who have mental health problems that can include obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, depression PTSD and many other issues.
There are several different types of mental health degrees available. Earning your bachelor’s degree in mental health counseling is often the first stage to becoming a mental health counselor. You also can use a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as sociology or education as the basis for your mental health career.
With a degree in mental health, you could work in a hospital, psychiatric hospital, mental health clinic, hospice care center, and home health care facilities. All of these positions provide their own unique challenges due to the different types of patients you will work with.
Bachelor’s in Mental Health Counseling
If you first earn a bachelor’s degree in mental health counseling, you should expect to take these types of psychology courses:
- General psychology
- Systems and history of psychology
- Psychology and statistical reasoning
- Human development and the life span
- Personality theories
- Abnormal psychology
- Tests and measurements in psychology
Master’s in Mental Health Counseling
It is important to understand that if you want to become a licensed mental health counselor, you must at least earn your master’s degree in mental health counseling.
Most master’s programs will require you to spend at least two years full time, and you also must complete clinical hours of at least several hundred hours. Common courses in a master’s program are:
- Understanding the human lifespan across many cultures
- The importance of promoting social justice and equity
- Theory and process in advanced mental health counseling
- Human growth and development
- Group dynamics
- Vocational development
Doctoral Degree in Mental Health Counseling
A doctoral degree is not always required to work as a mental health counselor, but it could be needed to practice in private practice in some cases. Earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree could be a good choice if you want to work in academia in the mental health field.
Why Earn a Mental Health Degree?
If you earn at least a master’s degree in mental health, you will have the opportunity to work in a career that is in great demand, and you will be able to help people to overcome many tough personal problems and mental health problems. Most mental health counselors find this work intensely rewarding on many levels.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS reports that the demand in this field is set to spike by 19% by 2024, which is much faster than average. Keep in mind that as more people are getting health insurance that requires mental health counseling, there is an excellent chance of job demand increasing even more in coming years.
The salary for mental health counselors is in the area of $49,000 per year, but the top 10% earn more than $80,000 per year.
Once you have graduated with at least a master’s degree, you will need to gain your required clinical hours under supervision so that you can qualify for state licensure. In your clinical training you may provide group therapy, family therapy, psychotherapy and more.
All mental health counselors must past the state licensure examination for their state which is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Online Mental Health Degree Options
Earning a degree today in the mental health field is exciting because you can, if you choose, earn your degree online and rarely if ever need to visit a college campus at all. This greatly expands the educational opportunities that are available to many Americans who have personal and work responsibilities.
To enjoy a successful and satisfying career in mental health, you need to conduct plenty of research about which program and university is for you. First, you should think about the type of mental health counseling specialities that most interest you. What sounds interesting? What drives you in the mental health field? Who do you want to help the most?
Consider some of the common specialities in mental health counseling:
- School counselor
- Mental health counselor
- Addiction counselor
- Marriage and family counselor
All of these are viable career options, but only you know which is the best fit for you. Further, think about these following factors to select the best focus for your mental health degree:
- What sorts of people do you want to help the most? Do you want to work with adults, the elderly, children, teenagers, or a certain type of population, such as people with depression or with substance abuse problems.
- What sort of workplace interests you? Would you like to work in a hospital, private practice or a university counseling center?
- Do you want to work mostly with individuals or families or both?
Last, think about these factors about the universities you are looking into:
- How many students per teacher?
- How good is the financial aid for the mental health program in particular?
- How quickly can you complete the online degree program?
- How is the college ranked and how is the mental health degree program ranked?
Obviously there is a lot to consider as you think about the best mental health degree for your interests and career goals. As we noted earlier, to become a licensed mental health counselor, you need to earn at least your master’s degree. We have selected the following school for your consideration to earn your master’s in mental health:
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that you may complete in three years part time, or two years full time.
This highly rated program is fully online except for the clinical internship component in your area. It will prepare ambitious and talented students to provide advanced mental health services to patients in many settings. You will develop the skills and tools to help your clients to work through these types of serious mental health challenges:
- Extreme anxiety
- Low self esteem
- Problems in relationships
- Suicidal thoughts
Your required mental health counseling coursework will include:
- Group Theories and Processes of Counseling
- Diagnosis of Mental Health Issues
- Assessment of Individuals
- Mental Health Counseling and the Grief Process
Regarding your clinical internship, you will work hand in hand with the director of the program and your faculty advisor to find a site in your area that is suitable for your interests and mental health career goals. You will need to complete your classes and 100 hours of practicum experience. After that is complete, you then need to complete 600 hours of clinical work at your approved site.
Also, all students must attend two, four day residencies in Chicago. One of them is during the program’s first year, and the second is during the Group Theories and Processes of Counseling class in your second year.
This university is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It also is an active member in the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology.
Is the university you are thinking of attending accredited by one of the regional organizations that are approved and recognized by the Department of Education. They are:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education,
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
By being accredited, you know that your mental health program and university have met high quality standards. This is incredibly important for your mental health career future, as you enter the workforce in the coming months.
Earning a mental health degree at the master’s level is the gateway to a very exciting and rewarding career field. There are many factors to go over to determine the best program for you, but we hope with the above information as a guide, you can make a solid, informed choice.