Mental Health Certification and Certificate Programs

Jul 27, 2018

Essential Information

Graduates of mental health assistant programs are provided with introductory knowledge about the human services field and could be prepared to assist social workers and psychologists in a variety of settings. Mental health assistants work under direct supervision to provide support in counseling sessions. Some programs are tailored towards specific topics, such as substance abuse or family counseling.

A post-baccalaureate certificate program provides more in-depth education and training for students who possess a bachelor's degree and wish to specialize or acquire additional knowledge in a specific area of mental health. Degree programs are available at the certification, bachelor's and master's level. Certification and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. Master's degree programs require a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related social science, a minimum GPA, and human services experience. Proper credentials from these mental health education programs can lead to jobs in the field of human services as mental health assistants or counselors.

Mental Health Assistant Certificate

Courses within a mental health certificate program provide basic knowledge of human services issues. Specific topics include:

  • Human services
  • Counseling
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Social welfare
  • Social issues

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Mental Health

Most post-baccalaureate programs are tailored to specific areas, such as infant and child, geriatric, substance abuse or domestic violence. At the post-baccalaureate level, the curriculum is designed to prepare students to specialize in a specific area of interest or need. Topics may include:

  • Client Assessment
  • Interviewing
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Counseling
  • Social issues
  • Mental illness
  • Ethics

Popular Career Options

Students who complete a certificate program to become a mental health assistant may choose to work in a variety of agencies providing assistance to social workers, psychologists or psychiatrists in one of the following roles:

  • Mental health assistant
  • Rehabilitation assistant
  • Crisis assistant
  • Recovery assistant

Graduates of a post-baccalaureate certificate program normally continue working in the human services field but can also work as:

  • Professional counselor
  • Psychiatric intake assessor
  • Victim advocate

Continuing Education Options

Individuals seeking to practice independently as counselors must pursue additional education at a minimum of the baccalaureate level in order to meet the requirements established by each state for licensure. Most states require a bachelor's degree to sit for the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) National Counselor Examination (NCE) to be licensed for practice in a specific state. However, each state maintains its own guidelines.

After graduating the post-baccalaureate program, students often pursue a master's degree in order to attain eligibility to sit for the NBCC National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE), which is used by some state licensure boards for licensing purposes.

For those with an interest in mental health, there are many program options available, including certificate programs. Most jobs available in the field are related to human services, but an advanced degree can open the door for more licensing and career opportunities.

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