Students who are interested in studying mental health should possess solid communication skills and have an interest in helping others. A bachelor's degree is necessary to work in the health field as a counselor, technician, practitioner or administrator. However, two-year associate's degree programs are good for preparing students for either a baccalaureate program or entry-level position in the mental health field.
For admission into the associate's program, students need a high school diploma, and completion of college-level courses in English, reading and mathematics. Before graduating from the associate's program, students are required to fulfill internship experiences at clinics, rehabilitation centers or other mental health facilities.
Associate of Science in Mental Health
Associate's degree programs in mental health are available through the human services, health sciences, or social services departments of most universities or community colleges. Some programs allow students to pick a specialization. Others are tailored toward a specific career, such as mental health treatment, gerontology, rehabilitation technology, and substance abuse treatment or child services. Associate's degree programs in mental health contain foundational and theory-based courses, along with specific training courses in the mental health field. Examples include:
- Community mental health
- Child mental health care
- Human development and psychosocial rehabilitation
- Mental and developmental disabilities
- Case management skills and therapeutic activities
- Drug and alcohol treatment
Popular Career Choices
With an Associate of Science in Mental Health, students have the training for jobs as mental health or nursing home assistants, family services caseworkers or human services assistants. In addition, graduates with an associate's can go on to earn baccalaureate degrees that will guide them toward specific vocations, such as mental health technology or mental health nursing. Some associate's degree recipients can go directly into positions such as these:
- Shelter manager or director
- Family support services caseworker
- Mental health rehabilitation assistant
- Nursing home administration assistant
- Group facilitator
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for social and human service assistants was projected to increase 11% from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the national average for all other occupations. As of 2015, social and human service assistants made a median annual wage of $30,830, as noted by the BLS.
Many baccalaureate degree programs are available within the field of mental health. These programs include a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Services, a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health Nursing, and a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Addiction Studies. Aspiring psychologists and substance abuse counselors must complete even more advanced academic programs at the master's degree level and above. The advanced programs in the mental health field often contain clinical and research components in addition to regular coursework.
An Associate of Science in Mental Health degree program prepares students to work entry-level jobs in the mental health field or to continue their education through a bachelor's degree program in mental health or a similar field.