Mental health technicians, or psychiatric technicians, care for people who have mental illnesses or developmental disabilities. It is their job to administer their medications, lead therapeutic activities, and monitor their vital signs. But they need to complete the training and certification programs necessary to prepare them for the job.
Mental Health Technician Education
Mental health technicians need to complete postsecondary education to qualify for this job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are mental health or psychiatric technology programs offered by technical schools and community colleges.
Typical courses include psychology, biology, and counseling. Students may also be required to complete supervised work experience, giving them on-the-job experience.
Usually, these programs last from a semester to two years, which could earn the students a certificate and associate’s degree, respectively.
High school students who want to become mental health technicians need to prepare for this career by taking biology, sociology, psychology, and anatomy. They can build up on their experience related to this field by volunteering in mental health facilities. Most employers favor applicants who have a certificate or associate degree specializing in mental health technology. Even those who have completed a nursing assistant program or in any other related medical field may have an opportunity to get this job.
Mental health technology programs usually include courses in substance abuse, group dynamics, crisis intervention, human development, and psychology. They teach students about providing personal needs to the patients like bathing and feeding them, working with mental health services, and monitoring treatments.
Those who want to advance in their careers can take graduate training programs that will provide them with advanced instruction on collaboration, evaluation, and treatment of patients.
The curriculum in certificate, associate, and graduate degree programs usually require students to participate in internship programs in mental health care facilities.
Mental Health Technician Training
Mental health technicians usually receive on the job training before they are allowed to work on their own. However, the types and duration of their training depend on the requirements of the employers.
Training programs may include providing direct care to the patients, with the supervision of an experienced technician. These technicians may be required to attend lectures, workshops, or in-service training.
Necessary Qualities that mental health technicians must have
In order for them to do their job well, mental health technicians need a few skills. They need to be compassionate since they need to interact with their patients and care for them directly. They could use great interpersonal skills as they try to develop a rapport with the patients and assess their condition. Mental health technicians have to be patient since they will be dealing with the mentally ill or emotionally challenged. Physical stamina is also necessary since their job involves lifting, moving, and even restraining patients, at times.
Check also average salary of mental health technician.
Mental Health Technician Certification
Mental health technicians must be licensed before finding work in the states of California, Arkansas, Kansas, and Colorado. Most states require applicants to finish an accredited postsecondary program, pass the licensure exam, and pay the necessary fees.
The American Association of Psychiatric Technicians can administer certification exams to aspiring mental health technicians. Passing the exams will prove their professional competency.
Online Certificate for Mental Health Technicians
Online programs for mental health technicians usually reward students with 34 credits in basic nursing and mental health technology. Longer programs usually last for two semesters and a summer practicum. Those who want to take these programs only need a high school diploma, although some schools require candidates to have experience in health care or nursing.
Online classes require students to buy textbooks online. Students can communicate with their professors and classmates through emails and forums.