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How to Become a Mental Health Agency Manager

If you want to work in the mental health field and you’re passionate about both healthcare and business, you may want to consider a future as a mental health agency manager. This position balances the vital administrative responsibilities of overseeing the operations of a healthcare institution with the unique concerns of mental health organizations.

Female counselor in group setting evaluates patient while writing notes down on her clipboard

This role is critical to the success of mental health delivery at hospitals, private healthcare groups, and community clinics. People in this position manage a robust staff of mental health professionals, ensure compliance with changing government regulations as they relate to the mental health industry, oversee budgeting and billing of facilities and treatments, and work closely with doctors, nurses, and patients.

How do you become a mental health agency manager? The first step is educating yourself on the demands of the position and requirements to step into this rewarding job.

What Does a Mental Health Agency Manager Do?

This profession requires a compassionate approach to patient advocacy. Mental health agency managers generally possess a strong attention to detail, keen ability to communicate, and proficiency in technology. When you combine these skills with knowledge of mental health issues and management skills, you are prepared for future success.

What a mental health agency manager does can vary according to the day or week. Responsible for a number of the operations of private practices, hospitals, or clinics, mental health agency managers take on a variety of important roles. Acting as a vital team member, they manage a team of doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals, as well as engaging with clients. These activities may consist of coordinating activities, managing databases and patient charts, and ensuring the facility is equipped to serve patients.

On a day-to-day basis, mental health agency managers may perform the following functions:

  • Development and supervision of health services. As they oversee the general operations of their workplace, mental health agency managers develop policies with other leaders and ensure that all patient needs are being met. In this role, you would help introduce technology, train staff as necessary, and ensure the highest-quality care for all of your facility’s patients.
  • Collaboration with staff and patients. In this position, expect to interact often with the public, patients, and other healthcare providers. Mental health agency managers often help guide patients through the entire treatment process, as well as work with their health insurance companies to ensure payments remain current. Additionally, in this managerial position, you oversee the daily routines of staff members.
  • Budget management. As manager, your responsibilities would include monitoring income and expenditures and creating comprehensive budgets that address specific patient needs and the broader goals of providing mental health assistance. It is often a mental health agency manager’s responsibility to track the finances of his or her organization and find room for improved efficiency.
  • Assurance of compliance with regulations and policies. Providing the highest-quality care to people in need also means guaranteeing the safety and legality of treatment while making sure the delivery process runs smoothly. In this position, managers stay attuned to changes in mental health laws and policies while making sure their staffs are aware of such standards. They also help guide the policies of their organizations and make sure that everyone is on the same page and can work together to deliver effective mental health care that makes a meaningful difference in patients’ lives.

Steps to Become a Mental Health Agency Manager

What mental health agency managers do involves guiding the complex operations of a multifaceted healthcare delivery organization. Their responsibilities are often far-ranging and entail a number of learned and practiced skills that help their agencies thrive.

If you’re ready to start your journey toward the position of mental health agency manager, you will need to complete several steps. These often include earning at least a bachelor’s degree, gaining experience, and becoming licensed.

Step One: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Almost all mental healthcare organizations require a manager to have an undergraduate degree, preferably in a field related to healthcare or business. Aspiring mental health agency managers have several options for course of study, such as healthcare management, psychology, and behavioral science. This coursework provides a foundational knowledge of the unique needs of the mental health field and is the basis for continued studies in mental health administration.

Step Two: Consider a Master’s Degree

Occasionally, employers looking to hire a mental health agency manager require candidates to have completed postgraduate work in a field related to healthcare management. In addition, some aspiring mental health agency managers find greater opportunities and insights with a master’s degree. In a master’s program, you’ll improve skills in specific areas of clinical training, strategic healthcare planning, and health information systems.

Step Three: Gain Experience

You’ll need to put your hard-earned skills into practice in real-world settings to thrive as a mental health agency manager. Being well-versed in all areas of management will help you feel prepared and confident. Often, during undergraduate or graduate study, aspiring mental health agency managers complete practice hours in a hospital, nonprofit, or similar mental health provider setting.

Step Four: Earn Licensure

Some states require that individuals working in management at mental health organizations attain licensure that speaks to their ability to work with those in need of mental health support. To receive a license, prospective managers must prove their education and experience, as well as pass an examination. The specific area of licensure may vary, but specialties include nursing, clinical mental health counseling, and social work.

Mental Health Agency Manager Salaries

Generally, mental health management is a stable field with ample compensation. Mental health agency manager salaries can vary depending on the type of institution, as well as the state or city in which the manager works. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual salary for medical and health services managers as $98,350.

To achieve this type of salary, you often need to earn postgraduate degrees and certifications or gain considerable experience in the field of healthcare management. Geographic region may also impact a mental health agency manager’s salary.

Employment Outlook for Mental Health Agency Managers

The healthcare industry is experiencing a boom, and mental health services is no exception. The BLS expects the demand for medical and health services managers in general to continue to climb in the coming years, at a rate of about 20 percent between 2016 and 2026.

In addition, Mental Health America reports a workforce shortage of mental health professionals and that 9 million Americans feel they have unmet mental health needs. With so many people needing mental health support, the role of mental health agency manager is more critical than ever. Providing a safe place to receive high-quality care is essential, and that’s exactly what you would be doing as a mental health agency manager.

Explore Career Opportunities in Mental Health Agency Management

What mental health agency managers do has the power to achieve a real impact on those who need advocacy and care. They work closely with others, helping patients improve their mental health and ensuring staff members feel appreciated and that they are making a substantial impact on people’s lives.

If you’re excited by the prospect of stepping into this rewarding position, consider taking your first steps toward becoming a mental health agency manager. Get all the details on Maryville University’s online bachelor’s degree in healthcare management and learn more about where this degree can take you.



Glassdoor, Mental Health Program Manager Salaries

Maryville University, Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management Careers

Maryville University, Online Bachelor’s in Healthcare Management

Mental Health America, The State of Mental Health in America

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social and Community Service Managers