Medical and Mental Health Social Work
Medical and mental health social workers assess and treat individuals with mental and emotional problems relating to their family or relationships. Medical and mental health social workers are typically very social and investigative. They really enjoy helping and teaching others while providing tools for individuals to better themselves.
Medical and mental health social workers share qualities with many other social workers. They are compassionate and empathetic towards their clients, the have great interpersonal skills, and are typically very good at critical thinking and problem solving. Medical and mental health social workers are also very good at social perceptiveness, or being aware of people’s reactions, and understanding where these reactions are coming from.
Medical and mental health social workers learn psychology, therapy and counseling, administration in training. They use this knowledge to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, to help clients process their reactions to changes in their life, and help clients develop strategies to change behavior and cope with difficult situations. By helping clients to understand the problems in their life, medical and mental health social workers are able to work with clients to develop strategies to improve the clients’ lives.
Education Requirements for Medical and Mental Health Social Work
Mental health counselors typically need a master’s degree in psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a master’s degree in a similar field. Having a bachelor’s degree in most fields is an acceptable background to pursue a master’s degree and career in medical and mental health social work.
These programs prepare students to address the various problems and disorders patients or clients might be facing. Different programs may focus on different aspects of a client’s life. For example, a degree in marriage and family therapy will give social workers a strong background in how marriages, families, and relationships function.
As with most careers in social work, individuals must be licensed to practice. Licensure usually requires a master’s degree and between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of clinical experience in a supervised setting after graduation. Each state also administers an exam to test social workers’ aptitude.
Average Salary of Medical and Mental Health Social Workers
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average annual salary of a mental health counselor at $43,700, or $21.01 per hour. This salary will vary, of course, based on experience, education, industry, and location
The highest paying industry for medical and mental health social workers is in educational support services, which has an average annual salary of $53,770. The second highest paying industry is insurance carriers, which has an average annual salary of $53,440. Listed below are the five cities with the highest average salary for medical and mental health social workers:
- Alaska: $57,040
- Wyoming: $53,570
- Oregon: $51,670
- Arkansas: $50,200
- New Jersey: $49,490