Mental Health Specialist Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a mental health specialist. Feel free to use our mental health specialist job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a mental health specialist.
Who Is a Mental Health Specialist?
Mental health specialists assist patients in managing a range of mental diseases. They frequently work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities, but they are also employed by schools, prisons, and the military.
Types of Mental Health Professionals
- Psychologists: Doctoral degrees in clinical psychology or a related field, such as counseling or education, are required for psychologists. They have received training in conducting clinical interviews, psychological examinations, and testing to assess a person’s mental health. They can offer both individual and group therapy in addition to making the diagnosis. Certain types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other behavioral therapy techniques, may have been taught to some people.
Degree requirements: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a field of psychology or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).
Licensure and Credentials: Psychologists are licensed by licensure boards in each state.
- Counselors, Clinicians, Therapists: Based on specific training programs, these master’s-level healthcare experts are qualified to assess a person’s mental health and apply therapeutic procedures. Depending on the therapeutic situation, they work under a range of employment titles, such as counselor, clinician, therapist, or something else. Working with one of these mental health specialists can result in improved ways of thinking, feeling, and living in addition to symptom alleviation.
Degree requirements: A Master’s degree (M.S. or M.A.) in a discipline that relates to mental health, including, but not limited to, psychology, counseling psychology, marriage, or family therapy.
Licensure and Certification: Differs by specialty and state. Examples of licensure include:
- LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor
- LMFT, Licensed Marriage, and Family Therapist
- LCADAC, Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor.
- Clinical Social Workers: Clinical social workers receive specialized training to assess a person’s mental health and apply therapeutic strategies. Additionally, they have advocacy and case management training.
Degree requirements: Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW).
Licensure and credentials: Examples of licensure include:
- Licensed Independent Social Workers (LICSW)
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW)
- Psychiatrists: Licensed physicians with psychiatric training are known as psychiatrists. They can treat patients, administer and monitor drugs, and diagnose mental health disorders. Some have completed extra training in geriatric psychiatry, substance use disorders, or child and adolescent mental health.
Degree requirements: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), plus the conclusion of psychiatric residency training.
Licensure & credentials: Licensed physicians in the state where they are practicing; may also be designated as Board Certified Psychiatrists by the Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.
- Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse Practitioners: Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for mental health illnesses or drug use disorders can be given by psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners. They are licensed to prescribe and oversee the administration of drugs in some states. The level of monitoring by a qualified psychiatrist that is necessary varies by state as well.
Degree requirements: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) a degree in nursing with a focus on psychiatry.
Licensure & credentials: licensed to practice nursing in the state where they do. Credential examples include, but are not limited to:
- NCLEX, National Council Licensure Examination
- PMHNP-BC, Board Certification in psychiatric nursing through the American Academy of Nurses Credentialing Center.
- Primary Care Physicians: Although general practitioners and pediatricians can write prescriptions for medication, you might think about going to a mental health professional. The appropriate treatment strategy for a particular person should be decided in collaboration with primary care and mental health providers.
Degree requirements: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO).
Licensure & credentials: Licensed physicians in the state where they are practicing.
- Family Nurse Practitioners: Depending on the rules of each state, family nurse practitioners (FNP) can offer general medical services similar to those of a primary care physician. They can prescribe medication, much like primary care doctors, but you might think about going to a mental health professional. It is preferable to collaborate with mental health specialists and family nurse practitioners when deciding on a patient’s optimal course of treatment.
Degree requirements: Master of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing.
Licensure & credentials: Licensed nurses in the state where they are practicing. Examples of credentials include:
NCLEX, National Council Licensure Examination
FNP-BC, Family Nurse Practitioner Board Certified
- Psychiatric Pharmacists: Advanced-practice pharmacists with a focus on mental health care are known as psychiatrist pharmacists. If it’s permitted in their state and practice environment, they can prescribe or suggest appropriate drugs. They are adept at medication management, which entails managing pharmaceutical reactions and drug combinations, modifying treatment based on responses, and imparting knowledge about medications. Many have further education in geriatric psychiatry, substance use disorders, or child/adolescent psychiatry.
Degree requirements: Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). Completion of residency training in psychiatric pharmacy is not required but is common.
Licensure & credentials: licensed pharmacists in the jurisdiction in which they work; may additionally hold a designation from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties as a Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist.
- Certified Peer Specialists: These experts have first-hand knowledge of either a substance use disorder or a mental health condition. They are frequently equipped to aid in recovery by assisting a person to establish goals and strengthen their character. They offer assistance, mentoring, and direction.
- Social Workers: Social workers (B.A. or B.S.) offer case management, placement assistance, inpatient discharge planning, and other programs to promote healthy living.
- Pastoral Counselors: Pastoral counselors have ordained clergy with clinical pastoral education training. They have counseling and diagnosis training. Pastoral counselors may possess credentials close to a counseling doctorate.
Mental Health Specialist Job Description
Below are the mental health specialist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a mental health specialist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
- Oversee, manage, and train the mental health team.
- Oversee the project and the hospital’s overall mental health treatment system.
- List the specifics of the current mental health services, including other NGOs, neighborhood associations, and public health services.
- Produce monthly reports while making sure data collection is accurate.
- Keep track of and assess psychosocial interventions that are suitable for the cultural beliefs of patients.
- Plan activities for groups that are therapeutic and educational.
- Arrange for patients to be referred to the appropriate neighborhood institutions.
- Ensure that patients with mental illnesses receive appropriate care, such as psychotropic medication and psychological support.
- Suggest, execute, and enhance the treatment of patients with mental disorders using methods and tactics that are tailored to the situation and the culture.
- Gather and analyze patient data to make evaluations and diagnoses.
- Create and carry out treatment programs for a variety of mental illnesses, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, personality, and behavioral problems.
- Track patients’ development and collaborate with other medical specialists to modify treatment regimens as necessary.
- Lead therapy sessions in both group and individual settings.
- Keep thorough records of every patient under his custody.
- Communicate with teachers, social workers, community members, and parole officials as needed.
- Set up meetings with the family and the person(s) who are providing care to go over treatment plans and suitable management methods.
- Attend conferences, take more courses, and network with other mental health professionals to increase knowledge of psychiatric diseases.
- A Specialist Education: It is crucial to have the appropriate training, credentials, and certificates to provide your services in the healthcare industry, including the subject of mental health, as this is frequently mandated by governmental regulations.
Consider taking an online course from organizations like Train Smart if you’re trying to get a job in the mental health sector. You will have the opportunity to acquire all the knowledge necessary for your upcoming position in mental health services through these types of degrees, along with the freedom to complete these courses on your schedule.
- Previous experience working in a mental healthcare setting.
- Possession of a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, or a related subject.
- Certification as a Certified Mental Health Professional (CMHP) or an equivalent credential may be necessary.
- Thorough knowledge of the several styles of therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), Gestalt therapy, multimodal therapy, and others.
- Good Judgment Skills: A great capacity to judge and create programs for your customers or patients is another crucial skill you’ll need to have in the mental health industry.
You must be able to easily comprehend your patients, create an informed opinion about them, and work with them to resolve any problems they may be experiencing. To do this, you must have a trained eye and the ability to form an objective judgment swiftly.
There isn’t a necessity for these talents to come naturally; instead, you can work on them through a course or even through workplace training. These skills can, of course, be improved over time and with online instructors.
- An Ability to Develop Help-Focused Relationships: The ability to develop relationships is the second talent you should practice. As you may already be aware, working in the mental health profession frequently calls for you to build and maintain connections with your clients over an extended length of time to monitor, modify, and assess the efficacy of treatment and lifestyle plans.
To be able to be that “trusted” person in someone else’s life without crossing those boundaries, you must be proficient at understanding boundaries and keeping your clients at a distance.
- Ability to Think Critically: You’ll need to demonstrate critical thinking abilities in the workplace so that you can work to put together a plan and solve difficulties swiftly. And that will be successful in assisting your clients in conquering their life’s obstacles in a manner that is both outcome-driven and simple to follow. You will need to consider a range of potential outcomes of your ideas before making a final decision, much like when addressing problems in other industries, like banking or even marketing, thus problem-solving and predictive skills are crucial.
- Effective Communication Skills: You’ll need to be able to communicate fluently and effectively if you want to pursue a profession in mental health.
You must be able to speak to all of your customers with purpose, poise, and confidence because many mental health roles require some sort of verbal communicative assistance. Additionally, your patients and clients must sense that you are not passing judgment on them while you listen to their worries. Remember that there is a great difference between listening objectively and “faking” it, as well as between having outstanding communication skills and a strong desire to assist others.
- Empathy and Understanding: In a profession in mental health, empathy and understanding are crucial abilities that will make all the difference. These concepts have to do with the capacity to comprehend what someone is going through and the emotions that follow. A skilled mental health professional will be able to interact with service consumers in a friendly, composed, and understanding manner while being aware of their individual needs and circumstances. Positive health results are fostered in an environment of trust and support, which requires empathy and understanding.
- Ability to Speak Succinctly: You must be able to communicate with the patient simply and succinctly. Ask them if they need any further explanation or time to process what you just stated. Paraphrasing what the patient just said and actively listening to them helps them feel heard, understood, and cared for. This is an essential quality for the mental health professional.
Watch their facial expressions to determine whether they are grinning, nodding, or frowning. See if they are hunched over, their shoulders drooping and if they are dressed correctly for the weather. You might notice that the patient doesn’t appear to have washed his teeth and that he smells dirty. If you see that the patient is perspiring or has a temperature, you may realize that you need to act.
- Empathy and Compassion: Kindness, even the simple act of demonstrating it, can drastically improve a patient’s day. When individuals are distressed and vulnerable, mental health specialists enter their lives, and the way they interact with patients and their families can have a lasting impact. You can empathize with a patient and what they might be going through by accepting differences and discovering things you have in common with them. Even though they are mentally ill, they will value and remember the kindness you show them because they may not receive it elsewhere.
How to Become a Mental Health Specialist
- Obtain a Degree: A Bachelor’s Degree in counseling or a closely related discipline is typically required to start your professional path as a mental health specialist to stay a competitive option for employers. Focus on developing industry-specific skills during your studies to be prepared for applying for entry-level jobs and starting your career. Before entering the workforce, you may need to complete a Mental Health Specialist internship to get your bachelor’s degree and gain the necessary on-the-job skills.
- Choose a Line of Specialty in Your Discipline: You might be required to select a specialty in your area of study as a mental health therapist. Decide which area in the field of mental health specialists you are most comfortable in, and keep taking proactive steps to advance in that area.
- Obtain an Entry-Level Position as a Mental Health Specialist: You’ll normally start your career as a Mental Health Specialist at the entry level after earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a closely related discipline. Generally speaking, a four-year bachelor’s degree in a related field is required to become a mental health specialist. You might want to look into becoming a certified hand therapist depending on the kind of Mental Health Specialist position you’re pursuing.
- Advance in Your Mental Health Specialist Career: There are various stages in the Mental Health Specialist professional path after entry-level. Moving up to the next seniority-level position as a Mental Health Specialist can take two years. To advance in your profession as a mental health specialist, you need to have amassed roughly two years of experience at each level. To develop your career as a mental health specialist, you might need to complete further coursework, earn an advanced degree (like a Master’s Degree in a related field), or obtain specialized certifications.
- Continue Your Education on Your Mental Health Specialist Career Path: Not all businesses and industries need ongoing education to develop your career as a mental health specialist. However, obtaining this degree can make it easier for you to move up to employment with greater pay. It can take four years to acquire a graduate degree in counseling. Graduate degree holders typically earn $73,159 a year, compared to $38,170 for non-graduate degree holders.
Where to Work as a Mental Health Specialist
- Rehabilitation centers
- Hospitals and clinics
- Correctional centers
- Psychiatric facilities
- Outpatient facilities
- Community mental health clinics
- Private practices.
Mental Health Specialist Salary Scale
In the US, the average salary for mental health professionals is $42,698 per year or $20.53 per hour. On the lower end of the scale, the bottom 10% to be precise, mental health professionals make about $28,000 a year, while the top 10% make $63,000.
A mental health worker’s annual income in the UK ranges from £12,700 to £36,000, with an average of £17,600. Although most occupations in this industry need roughly 37.5 hours of work each week, there are frequent opportunities for part-time employment.