With more than 43 million[i] Americans experiencing mental health problems comes a growing need for qualified clinical mental health counselors to help people of all ages lead healthy and productive lives.
A master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling can benefit those who want a career that promotes mental health and social justice. Here are six reasons to consider a graduate degree in this field.
Hone your skills
Individuals who are enrolled in a graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling broaden their knowledge base to help people develop strategies and skills to manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems. Mental health counselors assess, diagnose, and treat people struggling with mental health issues, including depression, stress, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and more. Graduate students gain academic and hands-on knowledge and experience through coursework, residential colloquiums, internships and practicums.
Identify a specialty area
In addition to providing a sound foundation, programs such as Antioch University’s online master of arts program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling allow students to specialize in a particular area. Students have the opportunity to choose a specialization in Substance Abuse and Addictions Counseling, family counseling, or focus in Counseling Military Service Personnel and their Families. Students can focus on serving certain populations, such as children, college students and the elderly.
Enter a diverse workplace
A master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling prepares students to work for in-patient, outpatient, residential, and community settings. Mental health counselors often collaborate with psychologists, psychiatrists, and other health professionals to provide therapeutic care at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, substance abuse treatment centers, community agencies, government organizations, and corporations. There is also an opportunity to pursue a career in a private practice.
Tap a strong job market
An advanced degree in mental health counseling can increase your marketability and earning potential. The job market for mental health counselors is projected to grow 20% by 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. [ii] Experts expect more people to seek mental health services now that most insurance policies cover mental health services following passage of federal health care reform. The law requires insurance companies to cover treatment of mental health issues in the same way as medical diseases. Fifteen states face shortages of mental health professionals, as defined by law, further underscoring the need for mental health counselors. [iii]
Prepare for licensure
A graduate program helps candidates build competency in the eight core areas recommended by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs in order to become a licensed mental health counselor. The areas include professional orientation and ethical practice, social and cultural diversity, human growth and development, career development, helping relationships, group work, assessment, and research and program evaluation. Students who graduate with the MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Antioch will be prepared to write national professional exams and apply for licensure as a clinical mental health counselor.
Nurture a passion
Students working toward a master’s degree in mental health counseling share a passion for helping others who may be suffering. They seek a career that allows them to help individuals and society. They recognize that most people struggling with mental health issues can lead healthy and productive lives with the assistance of a mental health counselor.
If you are ready to embrace your passion for mental health and social justice, consider Antioch University’s online master of arts program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. [iv]As a mental health counselor, you can serve as a catalyst to improve the lives of those most in need.