In 2020 SAMSHA supported study estimated that there are about 1.2 million behavioral health providers in the United States. Although that number may seem high, it is inclusive of the entire spectrum of mental health providers. Think of the many roles within the mental health community including peer support advocates, school counselors, addiction specialists, psychologists, and so much more. The question arises, Who comprises this expansive population of mental health workers?
It is no surprise to many of us who look at our colleagues that female-identifying individuals constitute a large portion of the mental health workforce. Data shows that 73.8% of counselors are women while only 26.2% are men.
Having mental health workers who reflect the population they serve is becoming an increasingly important goal for many mental health agencies. Data is showing that the mental health field continues to be predominately occupied by white practitioners.
- White, 74.2%
- Black or African American, 7.9%
- Hispanic or Latino, 7.9%
- Unknown, 6.2%
- Asian, 3.1%
- American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.7%
Secondary Languages Spoken
Referring clients to a non-English speaking provider has presented as a challenge for many clinicians. While finding bilingual therapists is often a challenge, of all therapists who speak a second language data has shown 75.0% speak Spanish, 2.9% speak Portugese, 2.9% speak German, 2.9% speak Japanese, 1.9% speak French, and 14.4 speak another unlisted language.
While mental health workers’ age spans from early adulthood to retirement, data shows that 10% of workers are 20-30 years old, 29% are 30-40 years old, and 61% are 41+.
While the largest portion of mental health professionals works in the private sector 74%. Mental health workers are also present in education settings 6%, public mental health 5%, and government 16%.
Different educational levels allow for different roles within the mental health field. Data has shown that the highest level of education for mental health professionals breaks down like this:
- Bachelors, 58%
- Masters, 34%
- Associate, 5%
- Doctorate, 1%
- Other Degrees, 2%
According to a government report, the mean annual wage for mental health and substance abuse counselors is $57,800 a year or $27.79 per hour. However, compensation for mental health workers can vary widely.
Salaries can be greatly impacted by the physical location of the provider. For instance, mental health workers in California have a mean annual salary of $79,450 while workers in Puerto Rico have a mean annual salary of $25,720.
Educational level and job title are perhaps one of the most influential factors in average pay. We see this as we look at reported mean salaries for different occupations within the mental health realm.
- Psychiatrists $249,760
- Psychologists $99,640
- Social Workers $63,010
- Substance Abuse counselors $53,490
- Psychiatric aides $34,640
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, March 31). Mental health and substance abuse social workers. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211023.htm
Mental health professional demographics and statistics : Number of mental health professionals in the US. Mental Health Professional Demographics and Statistics : Number Of Mental Health Professionals In The US. (2022, September 9). Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.zippia.com/mental-health-professional-jobs/demographics/
Office, U. S. G. A. (n.d.). Behavioral health: Available workforce information and federal actions to help recruit and retain providers. Behavioral Health: Available Workforce Information and Federal Actions to Help Recruit and Retain Providers | U.S. GAO. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105250
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). A look at employment and wages of mental health workers for Mental Illness Awareness Week. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 9, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2022/a-look-at-employment-and-wages-of-mental-health-workers-for-mental-illness-awareness-week.htm