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Degree Overview: Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree in Mental Health

Majors Overview March 7, 2014

Usually, individuals that work in the mental health field as technicians, administrators, counselors, or practitioners have a four-year degree. Some associate’s degree programs can lead to entry-level jobs in the mental health field or baccalaureate programs.

Associate of Science (A.S.) Programs in Mental Health

Community colleges and universities often offer associate’s degree programs in mental health through their social services, health services or human services departments. Students are introduced through these programs to the field of human services studies and mental health studies. Core coursework covers basic counseling methods, common mental illnesses, and group and family interactions.

Students are allowed by some associate’s degree programs in mental health to pick a specialization. The orientation of other programs is in the direction of a specific career, such as child services, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation technology, gerontology, or mental health treatment. Some schools offering associate’s degree programs in mental health often expect enrolled students to participate in internship programs at mental health facilities such as rehabilitation centers or clinics, among others.

Educational Prerequisites

Incoming students to mental health associate’s degree programs are often required to complete college-level courses in math, reading and English before they can begin core coursework. Students enrolled in the mental health program are also expected to have strong communication skills and adopt a helping towards others.


Coursework in Associate’s degree programs in mental health include introductory and theory-based classes, in addition to training courses specific to the mental health field, including topic areas such as:

•Case management skills
•Human development
•Drug and alcohol treatment
•Therapeutic activities
•Child mental health care
•Community mental health
•Mental and developmental disabilities
•Psychosocial rehabilitation

Career Choices

Graduates of an associate’s degree program in mental health may pursue continued education to earn baccalaureate degrees aimed at specific vocations, such as mental health nursing or mental health technology. Graduates of associate’s degree programs may choose from various positions such as:

•Mental health rehabilitation assistant
•Group facilitator
•Family support services case worker
•Shelter manager or director
•Nursing home administration assistant

Continuing Education Choices

Schools offer many baccalaureate degree programs within the field of mental health, including a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Addiction Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health and Human Services. Those who aspire to become substance abuse counselors or psychologists can accomplish their objective by completing even more advanced academic programs at the graduate or higher degree level. Coursework in more advanced programs in the mental field is augmented by research and clinical components.

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