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How to Become a Mental Intake Coordinator

Find out how to become a mental intake coordinator. Research the education and training requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in mental health social services management. View article »

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  • 0:00 Mental Intake…
  • 1:28 Earn a Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:34 Earn a Master's Degree
  • 3:28 Acquire Licensing
  • 4:12 Gain Social Work Experience

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Video Transcript

Mental Intake Coordinator Overview

Mental intake coordinators assess potential patients and verify if their medical needs will be met by a particular facility's accommodations. Coordinators talk with potential patients, review patients' medical histories, and make recommendations on possible treatment programs. These professionals also verify if potential patients' health insurances will provide financial coverage for mental health services. Nights, weekends, and holiday hours are typically required in this position.

Mental intake coordinators are similar to social workers and social services managers. They need at least a bachelor's degree, although licensing regulations might require them to hold a master's degree.

Degree Level Bachelor's or master's degree
Degree Field(s) Social work, health care administration, or behavioral science.
Licensure Social worker's license may be required
Experience Patient treatment center work experience; sufficient background in case management, patient assessment, sales and customer service
Key Skills Excellent oral and written communications skills, extensive knowledge of social services programs, highly motivated, able to analyze data, manage time efficiently, multitask, comfortable working with people in a moderately stressful, fast-paced environment; familiar with document and spreadsheet programs for writing reports and conducting research, insurance policies, and mental health treatment options
Salary (2016) $38,111 per year (Median salary for all intake coordinators)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), November 2012 job postings on CareerBuilder.com, PayScale.com (September 2015).

Let's look at the steps involved to become a mental intake coordinator.

Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Employers tend to prefer mental intake coordinators who hold at least a bachelor's degree and have experience in social work. A bachelor's degree program in social work typically addresses service planning, program evaluation, case management, human behavior, social work research, and social work policies. Most programs require students to complete several hundred hours of fieldwork experience, which helps students prepare for providing social services to actual patients.

Many duties completed by mental intake coordinators fall under the category of health care administration, so students might consider earning a minor in this field. Coursework generally includes health care organizational management, human resources, health care services marketing, health care law, and health care information technologies.

While in college, prospective mental intake coordinators also might build their customer service skills. Mental intake coordinators spend a significant portion of their time talking directly with patients, so they need to know how to communicate with people, listen to their needs, and address their concerns.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

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  • Medical Claims Examiner
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  • Medical Insurance Billing and Coding
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Earn a Master's Degree

Not all employers require that mental intake coordinators hold a master's degree. However, some employers prefer job candidates with more extensive education and, as the next step will address, a master's degree might be required for licensure as a social worker. Master's degree programs in social work often offer concentrations in administrative leadership or clinical social work, either of which would apply to prospective mental intake coordinators, since they perform predominately administrative tasks, but also need a clinical understanding of mental health conditions. Potential master's degree course topics in social work include social justice, generalist social work practices, lifespan changes, social work research analysis, and community welfare programs. Master's students also have to complete extensive supervised internship hours.

Acquire Licensing

Technically, mental intake coordinators are not required to obtain licensing. However, many employers prefer to hire mental intake coordinators who are licensed social workers. Licensing requirements for social workers vary by state, but most require that applicants have completed several years of supervised clinical experience as well as a related master's degree program. License applicants also have to pass written exams. Social workers typically must meet continuing education requirements to maintain licensure. Some states require completion of a certain number of courses while others mandate that applicants complete specific classes. The license renewal process also includes paying fees.

Gain Social Work Experience

Students are required to complete thousands of hours of field experience and internships during undergraduate and graduate degree programs, but these experiences are supervised and highly structured. Most employers seek applicants with postgraduate experience in behavioral studies or community social services. More specifically, some employers prefer candidates with at least one year of postgraduate experience working with patients suffering from mental illnesses.

Employers also tend to look for candidates with supervisory experience in case management, hospital administration, and patient records maintenance. Although most employers preferred individuals with experience at mental health facilities, general administrative experience with any health care provider could prove to be useful preparation for this position.

In summary, mental intake coordinators need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in social work or a related field. They also might need a master's degree, state licensure as a social worker, and experience in social work.

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