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How to Get Into the Mental Health Field

With mental health disorders becoming more prominent in adults and more and more people being affected, 42% of diagnosed adults received some form of mental health help last year. This shows that there is a greater need, more now than ever, for professionals in the mental health field.

The type of work that mental health counselors do means that they combine psychotherapy with problem-solving to help the individual, couples, or families deal with an array of mental health issues. There are many demographics that they work with and offer their work to the whole of society, from the elderly and disabled through to adolescents and children, also not forgetting military personnel.

Entry Points

As you need to have a Masters degree for a licensure as a mental health worker, you must then have a bachelor’s degree in a counseling related field to set the groundwork for graduate studies in counseling. The type of coursework that you need to do as an undergraduate includes human development, counseling skills and an introduction to psychology.

Masters Degree

Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree, you can then consider doing your Masters degree. As you may be on placement or have chosen to work in a related field, going to university to study everyday maybe not be feasible for you so you can consider one of the mental health masters programs online where you can then fit your study around your work.

You will need your Masters to practice as a licensed professional mental health counsellor as it is a requirement for this.

Get Experience

Gaining experience as a mental health worker is vital to complete your studies in this field, and this can be done via an internship. This is a crucial part of accredited Masters programs as supervised experience enables students to really delve into, and experience the role as a licensed professional mental health worker, all the while being supported by other professional counselors.

Pass Exams

Dependent on which state you study in, and the program you do,you may need to pass a counseling examination in order to get licensure such as the Clinical Mental Health Counseling exam.


State licensure is needed to practice as a mental health counselor, and it generally includes completion of a Masters degree, 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postgraduate supervised clinical experience and a passing score in a state-recognized licensing exam. More information on state licensing requirements can be found at the National Board for Certified Counselors.

It is here that you can also find whether you need certification as a mental health counselor and whether it will enhance the role you want, or are currently doing.

Working in the mental health field is a fascinating but very challenging job, which will also be a very rewarding job too. There is a lot of study that needs to be undertaken but thanks to the flexibility of online courses, you can still work in the field honing the skills needed to progress furtherwhilst aiming for higher education at the same time.