Mental Health Certification and Certificate Programs

Learn about various levels of mental health certificate programs here. Continue reading for prerequisites, coursework and career options for these professionals.

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Essential Information

Mental health specialists help people to achieve and maintain optimum emotional well-being. Those who are seeking mental health educational certificate programs will find entry-level and post-baccalaureate options available. Such programs could prepare them for certification or licensure. Proper credentials can lead to careers in the field of human services as mental health assistants or counselors.


Mental Health Assistant Certificate

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.

Education Prerequisites

Certificate programs for mental health assistants are normally available at community colleges and generally have open enrollment procedures. All schools require a high school diploma or GED but may also offer remediation options for students who do not meet the initial criteria.

Program Coursework

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

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

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.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Mental Health

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.

Education Prerequisites

Eligible students for post-baccalaureate certificate programs generally must have a bachelor's degree in psychology, human services, social work, nursing or a related social science. Each educational institution has its own specific criteria, but generally, a minimum GPA must have been maintained. Human services-related experience may also be required. Most post-baccalaureate programs are tailored to specific areas, such as infant and child, geriatric, substance abuse or domestic violence.

Program Coursework

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

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

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.

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