Community Mental Health Counselor Certification and Education
Our communities have people (across the socioeconomic spectrum) that need counseling services. Many of them have one form, or another, of mental health issues. Mental illness exists in various sensitive populations such as the homeless.
Often, the mental illness can exacerbate inherent situations of struggle and limited resources among these populations. Some of these populations of people are actually dealing with a combination of physical challenges with mental conditions, adding to the magnitude of their situation. These clients often rely on clinics that are understanding and can work with them, given their uniquely sensitive life struggles/demands and financial situations.
Community Mental Health Counselors Know Their Environments Well
Community mental health counselors are used to performing the same tasks as standard mental health counselors only in a group setting. Community mental health counselors are different from mental health counselors because their duties can include helping patients use public services like libraries and public transportation, providing an invaluable information and services to those in their communities.
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How to Become a Community Mental Health Counselor
Community mental health counselors are usually very well educated. The level of education will vary depending on state law, as well as on the actual job responsibilities. There are community service organizations that will employ people at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, depending on the nature of the work and responsibility. Look into the job opportunities in your area to decide the right degree for you. Until recently, the CACREP agency (Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs) accredited mental health and community counseling programs separately. Due to recent changes, the two have been merged. The length of mental health counseling programs has increased to 60 semester hours.
Licensing and Certification for Community Health Counselors
Depending on which state you live in you may or may not be required to work without a license. In some states, the board will allow you to work in a facility under supervision even if you do not have a license. In other states, they will require you to be fully licensed in order to work in the mental health field. Those who have completed graduate school will be required to complete between two to three years over overseen practice before they can be a fully licensed counselor. This practice will be conducted at a local center or facility. In some cases, those who have completed their undergraduate education will be able to work as addiction counselors or be licensed as Qualified Mental Health Providers.
Salary and Career Expectations for Community Health Counselors
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mental Health Counselors can expect to achieve a salary of between 41,000 and 43,000 per year.