Mental health technicians (also known as behavioral health technicians and psychiatric technicians) play an important role in mental health treatment. They provide essential support to psychiatrists, doctors, counselors, patients, and social workers.
What is a mental health technician?
Mental health technicians are also popular with the names of mental health assistants who help mental health professionals cure individuals with psychiatric issues. Usually, mental health technicians work in hospitals under the guidance of senior mental health care professionals like doctors or psychiatrists.
A mental health technician coordinates with doctors and renders mental health care services to patients. They provide assistance to the doctors for evaluating patients’ condition, monitoring, and maintaining documentation, providing proper care to the patient and their personal needs.
A professional mental health technician assists mental health patients to manage their daily life and self-care. They create a serene environment where patients can improve positive behaviors and reduce negative behaviors. The mental health assistant reports and records all the data on the patient’s progress to the psychiatrist. Different hospitals, medical shelters, mental health facilities, and schools have such associates to help people.
What does a mental health technician do?
Practically, they are the helping hands of doctors, nurses, and other mental health experts who deliver the treatment to the patients. Primarily, these people are associated with the treatment of patients having behavioral issues, mental disorders, and other psychological issues.
As a mental health technician, you have the opportunity to work directly with the patient, and you may need to follow the prescribed treatment process.
Due to the COVID – 19 outbreak, people are suffering from mental stress, anxiety, depression, and other issues. So, the demand for expert mental health professionals is increasing. These people can provide direct service to patients experiencing autism and related disabilities.
Mental Health Technician Duties and Responsibilities
The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians provides a basic mental health technician job description.
Mental health technicians are also known as psychiatric technicians. Mental health technicians spend more time with patients compared to health assistants on any other medical treatment team. These people assist doctors to provide proper treatment to the patient and report back the progress.
These are the primary duties of a mental health technician:
- Filling up the basic data of the patient through an admittance form.
- Giving prescribed medication.
- Checking the signs and behavior of patients, and record them.
- Helping everyone in doing behavioral analysis.
- Guiding an individual counseling session or a group therapy session.
- Connecting with the patients and knowing their needs.
- Providing care, safety, comfort, and the therapeutic environment to the patient
- Providing help in a mental health crisis.
- Participating in activities such as group sessions, community meetings, health ‘ fitness groups, and recreational activities, as per the patient’s mental condition.
- Documenting patient observations, following prescribed procedures, and standards.
- Creating a chart upon the progress and the next steps of the patient’s treatment.
- Gathering and keeping secret patient’s records.
- Helping patients to maintain appointments, clinic visits, laboratories, as suggested by the doctor.
- Maintaining quality, safety, policies, and procedures of the treatment.
- Doing assigned miscellaneous tasks related to their duties.
The mental health technicians are psychology students who are guided by senior doctors and can handle critical patients with ease.
How do I become a mental health technician?
If any of your family members or friends are suffering from a mental health disorder, you might want to help them more than anyone else. In that case, you may also become a mental health technician and work under popular mental health professionals.
To become a mental health tech, you may have to gather knowledge on mental health and human psychology. Apart from that, there are certain criteria, which you need to fulfill.
The minimum requirement for mental health technician certification:
- High school diploma or GED. You will also need 6 months of work experience as a health care worker and perform specified duties and responsibilities.
- Degree(s) from a reputed and authorized institution. You may get certification for mental health technicians through the National Career Certification Board (NCCB).
- Required skills and abilities:
- Can make emergency administrative and procedural decisions on sensitive, confidential cases.
- Knowledge of accreditation and certification requirements and standards.
- Can maintain records properly with indexing.
- Knowledge of crisis intervention techniques.
- Ability to interact with students, faculty, and staff.
- Can maintain quality, safety, and control infection.
- Can notice, assess, and record symptoms, reactions, and progress.
- Can provide therapeutic treatment to mentally and emotionally unstable people.
- Can lift and physically help patients with safety.
- Proficient in communicating with mental health professionals and doctors.
Data courtesy – jobdescriptions.unm.edu
b) Required physical conditions and working ability:
- Should be physically strong and active. The applicant should be able to carry or handle an average-weight patient up to 25 pounds or can stand or walk for more than 4 hours a day.
- The mind should be strong enough to handle extreme situations and potentially dangerous materials. He should always be focused on safety.
- Should be able to manage or work in extreme temperatures, dirt, dust, fumes, smoke, unpleasant odors, and loud noises.
- Must know how to provide CPR.
Mental Health Technician Training
In some jurisdictions, becoming a mental health tech might be easy as you do not need any particular education apart from a high school diploma. Normally, employers train such mental health techs via on-the-job training and develop required skills. But, nowadays employers want experienced techs who have done a professional course in psychology. Some of them also require a Bachelor’s degree along with other qualifications.
As per the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, 4 levels of certification are required for mental health techs:
|Level 1||A high school diploma or GED.|
|Level 2||Minimum 480 hours in any educational course in a college or a university, plus fieldwork for one year.|
|Level 3||Minimum 960 hours in any educational course in a college or a university, plus fieldwork for two years.|
|Level 4||A bachelor’s degree in a mental health-oriented subject or on developmental disabilities. Fieldwork is a must for three years.|
Initially, mental health technicians had limited options for doing a specialization. But, they may choose a suitable work location that can ease up their work. They can also pick their work location in some unique places such as in chemical dependency units or special-needs schools.
Mental health assistants may require good relationship skills and problem-solving abilities to excel in their work. Apart from that, they also need flexibility, adaptability, patience, compassion, and smartness to work with the people daily in hospitals, government facilities, residential and outpatient care facilities, and doctor’s offices.
Mental health technicians’ salary and growth
The average salary range for a Mental Health Technician is between $29,246 and $46,794.
An average Mental Health Technician may receive $19 as hourly pay and $38,851
a year. The Median salary as per 2019 was $32,020 and $15.40 per hour. The average base salary as per 2020 is $4,736.
Data courtesy – erieri.com
It is estimated that as mental health tech, the projected percentage change in employment from 2018 to 2028 can give you a 12% growth.
A Mental Health Technician with 1-4 years of experience may earn $13.96 per hour on average. A Mental Health Technician with 5-9 years of experience may earn $14.55 per hour on average. A Mental Health Technician with more than 9 years of experience may earn $19 to $20 per hour.
Data courtesy – bls.gov
How to find mental health technician jobs near me
You have to explore all the job search directories and portals. Several mental health clinics hire behavioral health technicians every month. The demand for mental health technicians is likely to increase post-pandemic. So, if you want to be a mental health technician, your first destination should be all the online job portals. Type ‘mental health technician job’ in the search box and set your desired work location, you will get the list of jobs available near you.
Check out the job description, responsibilities, and eligibility criteria. Read the ‘About Us’ section of the company to get a preliminary idea about them. Check out the reviews given by the employees to know if it is a good place to work. The remuneration package is also an important part of a job. So, before you sit for the interview, make sure you get an idea about it. Go through the official website of the company to get more information.
If you want to be a mental health technician, then you need to be up for many challenges that come with dealing with patients, psychiatrists, therapists, and so on. You need to have the heart to help patients and the intellect to do documentation fast. There is no scope for mistakes as you have to handle sensitive situations, details, and minds. Moreover, you have to be prepared for working on the weekends, holidays, and nights. You’re providing essential services to the people. So, don’t expect too much relaxation here.
Visit Health Gardeners