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Career and Education Opportunities for Mental Health Counselors in Jackson, Mississippi

If you want to be a mental health counselor, the Jackson, Mississippi area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 570 working mental health counselors in Mississippi; this should grow 13% to 640 working mental health counselors in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for mental health counselors are expected to grow by about 24.0%. Mental health counselors generally counsel with emphasis on prevention.

Mental health counselors earn about $18 hourly or $37,680 annually on average in Mississippi and about $17 hourly or $36,810 annually on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy, people working as mental health counselors in Mississippi earn more. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Counseling and Therapy nationally. Jobs in this field include: chemical dependency therapist, elder counselor, and corrections caseworker.

The Jackson area is home to seventeen schools of higher education, including one within twenty-five miles of Jackson where you can get a degree as a mental health counselor. Given that the most common education level for mental health counselors is a Master's degree, it will take about six years to learn to be a mental health counselor if you already have a high school diploma, or just 2 years starting with a Bachelor's degree.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health Counselor video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, mental health counselors counsel with emphasis on prevention. They also work with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental health.

Mental health counselors maintain confidentiality of records relating to clients' treatment. They also encourage clients to express their feelings and consider what is happening in their lives, and help them to evolve insight into themselves and their relationships. Equally important, mental health counselors have to collect data related to clients through interviews and tests. They are often called upon to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems. They are expected to modify treatment efforts and approaches as needed to comply with changes in clients' status. Finally, mental health counselors formulate, organize and lead structured programs of counseling, work, study, recreation and social activities for clients.

Every day, mental health counselors are expected to be able to piece together evidence to, in some sense, diagnose what is going on in a situation. They need to evaluate problems as they arise. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for mental health counselors to monitor clients' use of medications. They are often called upon to formulate and conduct programs to stop substance abuse or improve community health and counseling services. They also supervise other counselors, social service staff and graduate students. They are sometimes expected to schedule and direct employee workshops and training about mental health issues. Somewhat less frequently, mental health counselors are also expected to guide clients in the development of skills and strategies for dealing with their problems.

Mental health counselors sometimes are asked to design and implement treatment plans on the basis of clinical experience and knowledge. They also have to be able to ready and maintain all required treatment records and reports And finally, they sometimes have to learn about new developments in their field by reading professional literature, attending courses and seminars, and establishing and maintaining contact with other social service agencies.

Like many other jobs, mental health counselors must have strong self control in the face of challenging situations and have a strong concern for others.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Jackson include:

  • Career Advisor. Counsel individuals and provide group educational and vocational guidance services.
  • Child and Family Services Worker. Provide social services and assistance to improve the social and psychological functioning of children and their families and to maximize the family well-being and the academic functioning of children. May assist single parents, arrange adoptions, and find foster homes for abandoned or abused children. In schools, they address such problems as teenage pregnancy, misbehavior, and truancy. May also advise teachers on how to deal with problem children.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist. Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, whether cognitive, or behavioral, within the context of marriage and family systems. Apply psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of professional services to individuals, couples, and families for the purpose of treating such diagnosed nervous and mental disorders.
  • Rehabilitation Counselor. Counsel individuals to maximize the independence and employability of persons coping with personal, social, and vocational difficulties that result from birth defects, illness, or the stress of daily life. Coordinate activities for residents of care and treatment facilities. Assess client needs and design and implement rehabilitation programs that may include personal and vocational counseling, training, and job placement.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Mental Health Counselor Training

Mississippi College - Clinton, MS

Mississippi College, 200 South Capitol Street, Clinton, MS 39058. Mississippi College is a small college located in Clinton, Mississippi. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 4,788 students and an admission rate of 62%. Mississippi College has a master's degree program in Mental Health Counseling/Counselor which graduated thirteen students in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified In Thanatology: Certification in Thanatology (CT) is a foundation certification that enhances the professional designation established by the academic discipline of each certificate holder.

For more information, see the Association for Death Education and Counseling website.

Distance Credentialed counselor: A Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC) will be nationally recognized as a professional with training in best practices in Distance Counseling.

For more information, see the Center for Credentialing & Education, Inc. website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Jackson, Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi photo by Yassie

Jackson is situated in Hinds County, Mississippi. It has a population of over 173,861, which has shrunk by 5.6% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Jackson, 83, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Jackson cost $101,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, four hundred fifty-six new homes were built in Jackson, up from two hundred twenty-three the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Jackson are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 20 minutes. More than 27.1% of Jackson residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.2%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Jackson is 9.2%, which is less than Mississippi's average of 9.5%.

The percentage of Jackson residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 55.4%, is more than both the national and state average. Bibleway Baptist Church, Saint Johns Missionary Baptist Church and Saint John Deliverance Temple Number 2 are some of the churches located in Jackson. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Jackson is home to the Riverhills Country Club and the Colonial Country Club as well as Smith-Wills Stadium and Lefleurs Bluff State Park. Shopping malls in the area include North Terry Road Shopping Center, Northside Shopping Center and Northtown Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Jackson can choose from Days Inn-Coliseum, Econo Lodge and Regal Sales Office for temporary stays in the area.