Not all healthcare problems are immediately apparent. Every day, many Americans struggle with a serious and often silent or invisible medical issue: mental health.
Mental health issues affect approximately 50 million Americans each year. While millions of people experience mental health issues, more than half of them are not receiving proper treatment for a variety of reasons. Both a lack of accessible options and a lack of qualified professionals limit a person’s ability to locate crucial treatments and diagnoses. Luckily, motivated and compassionate individuals are earning degrees from behavioral health programs and joining the workforce to help combat the mental health epidemic sweeping the nation.
If you’re ready to step into the rewarding career of helping others, enrolling in a behavioral health program is a great way to start.
Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health
While many people use the terms behavioral health and mental health interchangeably, there are some key differences. These differences are key to identifying and possessing a thorough understanding of this career path. While both offer opportunities for a fulfilling future, their definitions and applications vary slightly.
Behavioral health is a blanket term that encompasses the mental health field. Careers in behavioral health and mental health both allow you to enrich the lives of those in need. There is no shortage of accessible pathways for those who are passionate about finding their place in this impactful field. Defining these similarities and differences will position you for success in your dream career.
- Behavioral health refers to connections between psychological responses and the behavior of the mind and body. Behavioral health encompasses services offered by social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, neurologists, and physicians and includes mental health, psychiatric, marital and family therapy, and addiction treatment.
- Mental health involves many of the same components of behavioral health, but refers to the biological aspect of wellness, compared to the behavioral and habitual nature of behavioral health. While behavioral health includes both a person's physical condition and mental state, mental health is a more specialized focus of a person's psychological state.
What Does a Career in Behavioral Health Look Like?
Looking to begin a fulfilling and exciting endeavor? Earning a degree from a behavioral health program like a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree offers pathways to many rewarding careers, including many roles in social work.
The MSW is designed to prepare you to become a culturally informed clinical practitioner. The program emphasizes lifelong learning, professional development, service, networking, and adherence to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics. Upon the completion of the program, you will be positioned to begin a career in social work.
Social workers focus on client case management while combining multiple elements of counseling and psychology. Social workers have the power and resources to better the lives of people through strategic and well-rounded approaches. Social workers often create meaningful bonds with their patients and work with them to create personalized solutions to address their concerns and stabilize their lives.
The field of social work is very diverse and rich with employment opportunities. A master’s degree in social work prepares you for a wide variety of job possibilities including:
- Foster Care Social Worker
- Behavioral Health Therapist
- Suicide Prevention Specialist
- Home Health & Hospice Social Worker
- Social Work Case Manager
- Domestic Violence Advocate
- Adult Protective Services Worker
- And much more!
Individuals considering the Master of Social Work program should be aware that state certification/ licensure requirements and eligibility to apply for certification/licensure vary from state to state. While certification/licensure is not a requirement for certain types of jobs, in some states, it may be required for any positions titled ‘Social Worker’ and to refer to yourself as a Social Worker in professional settings.
Are you ready to enhance the lives of others through a career in behavioral health? Now is the perfect time to get started. The job outlook for behavioral health professions is on the rise with no signs of slowing down, growing by 22% from 2021 to 2031. The first step toward a fulfilling career comes from starting your program and there are plenty of flexible options to get you where you want to be.
A career in behavioral health doesn’t just change your life, it can have a resounding and lasting positive impact on the lives of others — even those you’ll never meet but who will enjoy stronger relationships with loved ones you have helped. If you’re ready to make a difference in your community, earning your MSW degree is a great place to start. Earning your MSW provides ambitious individuals like you with the education and tools to excel in a rewarding career. Ready to begin? Get started today.