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Career profile Mental Health Social Worker

Also known as Case Manager, Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Therapist, Clinician, Counselor, Mental Health Therapist, Psychotherapist, Social Worker, Substance Abuse Counselor, Therapist

Mental Health Social Worker

Also known as Case Manager, Clinical Social Worker, Clinical Therapist

Interests Profile
  • Social
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$30,770 - $87,420 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Active Listening
  • Speaking
Knowledge Areas
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Psychology
  • Customer and Personal Service
Core tasks
  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
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What does a Mental Health Social Worker do?

Mental Health Social Workers assess and treat individuals with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems, including abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drugs.

In addition, Mental Health Social Workers activities may include individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, case management, client advocacy, prevention, and education.

What kind of tasks does a Mental Health Social Worker perform regularly?

Mental Health Social Workers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Counsel clients in individual or group sessions to assist them in dealing with substance abuse, mental or physical illness, poverty, unemployment, or physical abuse.
  • Collaborate with counselors, physicians, or nurses to plan or coordinate treatment, drawing on social work experience and patient needs.
  • Monitor, evaluate, and record client progress with respect to treatment goals.
  • Interview clients, review records, conduct assessments, or confer with other professionals to evaluate the mental or physical condition of clients or patients.
  • Supervise or direct other workers who provide services to clients or patients.
  • Modify treatment plans according to changes in client status.
  • Assist clients in adhering to treatment plans, such as setting up appointments, arranging for transportation to appointments, or providing support.
  • Educate clients or community members about mental or physical illness, abuse, medication, or available community resources.
  • Counsel or aid family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, or supporting the client or patient.
  • Increase social work knowledge by reviewing current literature, conducting social research, or attending seminars, training workshops, or classes.
  • Refer patient, client, or family to community resources for housing or treatment to assist in recovery from mental or physical illness, following through to ensure service efficacy.

The above responsibilities are specific to Mental Health Social Workers. More generally, Mental Health Social Workers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

What is a Mental Health Social Worker salary?

The median salary for a Mental Health Social Worker is $48,720, and the average salary is $54,540. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Mental Health Social Worker salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Mental Health Social Workers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Mental Health Social Workers earn less than $30,770 per year, 25% earn less than $37,220, 75% earn less than $65,210, and 90% earn less than $87,420.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Mental Health Social Workers is expected to change by 14.9%, and there should be roughly 14,000 open positions for Mental Health Social Workers every year.

Median annual salary
$48,720
Typical salary range
$30,770 - $87,420
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
14.9%

What personality traits are common among Mental Health Social Workers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Mental Health Social Worker are usually higher in their Social, Investigative, and Artistic interests.

Mental Health Social Workers typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Also, Mental Health Social Workers typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Mental Health Social Workers typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Mental Health Social Worker tend to value Relationships, Achievement, and Independence.

Most importantly, Mental Health Social Workers very strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Mental Health Social Workers very strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Lastly, Mental Health Social Workers strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Mental Health Social Workers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, integrity, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Mental Health Social Workers, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Adaptability/Flexibility
Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

What education and training do Mental Health Social Workers need?

Many Mental Health Social Workers have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Mental Health Social Workers may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Mental Health Social Workers

  • 1.9% completed high school or secondary school
  • 3.8% completed some college coursework
  • 0.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 12.9% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 75.0% earned a Master's degree
  • 5.5% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Mental Health Social Workers

Mental Health Social Workers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as therapy and counseling, psychology, or customer and personal service knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Mental Health Social Workers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Therapy and Counseling
Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
Psychology
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Sociology and Anthropology
Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

Important Abilities needed by Mental Health Social Workers

Mental Health Social Workers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Mental Health Social Workers need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and problem sensitivity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Mental Health Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Mental Health Social Workers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Mental Health Social Workers frequently use skills like social perceptiveness, active listening, and speaking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Mental Health Social Workers, ranked by their relative importance.

Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Monitoring
Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.