What Is a Mental Health Technician? (2023)

Mental health technicians—also called psychiatric technicians or behavioral health technicians—are key players in a mental health treatment team, working directly with patients who are coping with disabilities, illnesses, or substance use. They often work in collaboration with physicians, psychiatrists, social workers, and counselors as part of a treatment team.

There are various levels of certification, ranging from those with a high school diploma to people who have a bachelor's degree plus work experience. Depending on your skill level and goals, you can determine your ideal position on a treatment team.

This article discusses what mental health technicians do and the training requirements needed to work in this field.

What Does a Mental Health Tech Do?

If you or someone you love is coping with a mental health issue, you may work with a mental health tech as part of an overall treatment plan. Mental health technicians are employed in a variety of settings, including outpatient mental health facilities as well as long-term care facilities for both adults and children.

Mental health techs wear many hats, with responsibilities such as:

  • Administering prescribed medication
  • Being available for patients who need to talk
  • Checking vital signs and behavior patterns
  • Filling out admittance forms for new patients
  • Leading therapeutic or recreational activities

There's no single treatment approach when it comes to mental health techs. Instead, the tech's approach with patients most often reflects the philosophy of the facility at which they're employed.

Recap

Mental health techs work directly with people who are being treated for mental health concerns. They fill a range of roles, from admitting patients to healthcare facilities to assisting with therapeutic activities.

Training Requirements for a Mental Health Tech

In some jurisdictions, mental health techs need no particular education beyond a high school diploma. Traditionally, employers have provided classroom instruction and on-the-job training to develop the relevant skills. However, this is slowly changing. Many employers now require college coursework in psychology or social work. A few even require a bachelor’s degree.

There are four levels of certification for mental health techs, according to the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians:

  • Level 1: A high school diploma or GED
  • Level 2: At least 480 hours of any kind of college or university courses, plus work in the field for at least one year
  • Level 3: At least 960 hours of any kind of college or university courses, plus work in the field for at least two years
  • Level 4: A bachelor's degree in a subject related to mental health or developmental disabilities, plus work in the field for at least three years

As an entry-level position, the mental health tech generally has little opportunity for specialization. Instead, techs tend to choose the work locations that suit them best, from halfway houses to clinics. Techs may also choose to work in chemical dependency units or schools for people with developmental disabilities. Trying several different jobs can help guide you to further studies and specialized education.

Regardless of certifications, excellent relationship skills and problem-solving abilities are essential. Mental health techs must be flexible, adaptable, and able to think quickly. And given the scope of work and population of people you'll be meeting daily, it's important to bring patience, compassion, and good listening skills to your role.

Recap

The minimum entry-level requirement to become a mental health technician is a high school diploma or GED. University coursework, job experiences, or a bachelor's degree in a related field can lead to more advanced job opportunities.

Where Does a Mental Health Tech Work?

People who work in this field often work in a variety of settings. They may be referred to by job titles including mental health technician, psychiatric technician, or behavioral health technician.

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Common settings where mental health technicians are employed include psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and other healthcare settings. Because many mental healthcare facilities operate 24 hours a day, technicians often work evening shifts, night shifts, weekends, and holidays.

How to Find a Mental Health Technician Job

Career opportunities for mental health technicians are growing. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were more than 82,800 psychiatric technicians in 2019, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 13%—considered much faster than average—by 2029.

In 2020, mental health techs made an annual median wage of $35,030, with the lowest 10% making less than $24,960 and the highest taking home more than $59,020. Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals paid the best, followed by state governments and residential facilities.

Mental Health Technician vs. Mental Health Aide

Though the names may sound similar and they usually work in the same facilities, a mental health aide helps with more day-to-day tasks, including transportation, personal hygiene assistance like bathing, and serving meals. Aides typically require no more than a high school diploma or GED for the job, earning a median wage of $31,570.

Whether you choose to go the technician or aide route, it's important to keep in mind that many of these jobs are located in hospitals or 24-hour facilities, which could mean working weekends, nights, and holidays.

Summary

Mental health technicians are also known as psychiatric technicians or behavioral health technicians. They play an important role in mental health treatment, serving a variety of roles in the direct care of people experiencing mental health problems, illnesses, or disabilities.

While the minimum training required to enter the field is a high school diploma or GED, earning a degree or getting additional training and certification can open up job opportunities and higher salaries.

Mental health techs are employed in a variety of areas, which may include hospitals, private clinics, and residential care settings.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the difference between a mental health technician and a behavioral health technician?

    A mental health technician and behavioral health technician are interchangeable job titles. The exact title used may depend on the employer or state guidelines. Some professionals are also referred to as psychiatric technicians.

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  • How long does it take to become a BHT?

    You do not need to have a postsecondary degree or certification to become a behavioral health technician. A minimum of a high school diploma or GED is required. If you are interested in advancing in the field, a four-year degree in a behavioral health subject can help you find more employment opportunities and higher pay.

  • Is a certification required to become a mental health tech?

    No, a certification isn’t required to start as a mental health tech. If you are looking to grow into a higher-level position, a mental health technician certification is required. Certifications are also available, which allow people to become Certified Mental Health Technicians (CMHT) and Certified Behavioral Health Technicians (CBHT). However, these titles and certification requirements vary by state, so check with your state's licensing and certification boards to learn more.

  • How much money does a certified mental health technician make?

    While earnings vary depending on variables such as geographic location, employment sector, and years of experience, the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the mean annual wage for mental health technicians is $38,000 per year.

3 Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. American Association of Psychiatric Technicians. The certification process. 2021.

  2. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics.Psychiatric Technicians and Aides.Occupational Outlook Handbook.

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational employment and wages, May 2021: 29-2053 Psychiatric technicians.

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By Lisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.

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FAQs

How do you answer mental health interview Questions? ›

Related: 5 tips for better mental health in 2021!
...
The best way to respond is to use the STAR technique:
  1. Situation/Task: Describe the situation/task that you needed to deal with.
  2. Action: What action(s) did you take to remedy things?
  3. Results: What were the results of your action(s)?

What do you say in a behavior technician interview? ›

Behavioral technician interview general questions

What are your main strengths? What are your main weaknesses? What was your most and least favorite thing regarding your previous role? Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

What should I say in a healthcare interview? ›

It's important to be genuine in your responses, so avoid surface-level answers.
  • Highlighting qualities of the organization that you value.
  • Discussing specific reasons why you want to work for this particular employer.
  • Expressing your passion for healthcare and how it has inspired you to find the right career path.
10 Feb 2022

What questions are asked for a behavior technician interview? ›

Interview Questions for Behavior Technicians
  • Why should we hire you as a behavior technician? ...
  • How do you deal with aggressive patients? ...
  • Describe a time when you made a mistake during a task. ...
  • Tell us about a typical day in your job. ...
  • Describe your expertise in skill acquisition and behavior reduction.

What 3 questions can you ask about mental health? ›

7 Questions to Help People Talk About Their Mental Health
  • How have you been? ...
  • How's your stress level lately? ...
  • Have you been eating and sleeping? ...
  • Is there anything you want to talk about? ...
  • Would you be willing to talk to someone? ...
  • What can I do for you? ...
  • When is the best time to check in with you again?
22 Aug 2020

What 3 things do you do to support your mental health? ›

Tips for improving your mental wellbeing
  1. Relax and reduce stress.
  2. Find ways to learn and be creative.
  3. Spend time in nature.
  4. Connect with others.
  5. Look after your physical health.
  6. Try to get enough sleep.

Why do you want to work as a mental health technician? ›

Being a mental health practitioner, you are instrumental in helping others improve their lives. You give them the support and resources they need to create sustainable positive change in their lives. Not many careers give you the ability to affect someone in such a fundamental and positive way.

Why should we hire you as a behavior technician answer? ›

Example answer: “I consider my emphatic nature to be my biggest strength as a behavioral health technician. While learning all the technical aspects of the role is crucial, being able to empathize with your patients and their families in difficult times isn't something that can be taught.

What are the 10 most common behavioral interview questions and answers? ›

Behavioral Interview Questions and Sample Answers
  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure. ...
  • How do you handle a challenge? ...
  • Have you ever made a mistake? ...
  • Give an example of how you set goals. ...
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
14 Sept 2022

How do you handle stress and pressure? ›

2. Commit to a Positive Attitude
  1. Decide what you can do. Pinpoint which parts of the situation you have the power to change or influence for the better. ...
  2. Get support. Find someone to talk to about your situation. ...
  3. Care for yourself. Take especially good care of yourself when stress in your life is high.

Why should I hire you sample answer? ›

“Honestly, I possess all the skills and experience that you're looking for. I'm pretty confident that I am the best candidate for this job role. It's not just my background in the past projects, but also my people skills, which will be applicable in this position.

How do you pass a behavioral interview? ›

Behavioral interview tips
  1. Study the job description.
  2. Review major projects you've worked on.
  3. Revisit previous job performance reviews .
  4. Make a list of your professional accomplishments .
  5. Use the STAR method to structure your response.
  6. Be open and honest in your answer.
  7. Practice your interview responses aloud.

How do you answer a technical behavior question? ›

How to Answer Behavioral Interview Questions
  1. Situation. Describe the situation or set the scene. ...
  2. Task. Describe the issue or problem you were confronted with.
  3. Action. Describe the action you took to intervene in the situation or solve the problem. ...
  4. Results. Describe the results your action generated.
18 Jun 2021

What are 5 things that show good mental health? ›

You probably have good mental health if:
  • you are confident when faced with new situations or people.
  • you feel optimistic.
  • you do not always blame yourself.
  • you set goals.
  • you feel good about yourself.
  • you have good self esteem.

What are 5 things about mental health? ›

5 steps to mental wellbeing
  1. Connect with other people. Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. ...
  2. Be physically active. Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. ...
  3. Learn new skills. ...
  4. Give to others. ...
  5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

What are the 4 types of mental health? ›

mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder) anxiety disorders. personality disorders. psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)

How do you handle mental health? ›

6 ways to take care of your mental health and well-being this World Mental Health Day
  1. Talk to someone you trust. ...
  2. Look after your physical health. ...
  3. Do activities that you enjoy. ...
  4. Steer away from harmful substances. ...
  5. Take two minutes to focus on the world around you. ...
  6. Seek professional help.
7 Oct 2021

What are 4 ways to improve mental health? ›

10 tips to boost your mental health
  1. Make social connection — especially face-to-face — a priority. ...
  2. Stay active. ...
  3. Talk to someone. ...
  4. Appeal to your senses. ...
  5. Take up a relaxation practice. ...
  6. Make leisure and contemplation a priority. ...
  7. Eat a brain-healthy diet to support strong mental health. ...
  8. Don't skimp on sleep.
4 Oct 2018

What are the 3 most important skills for a psychiatric technician? ›

Important Qualities
  • Compassion. Because psychiatric technicians and aides spend much of their time interacting with patients, they should be caring and want to help people.
  • Interpersonal skills. ...
  • Observational skills. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Physical stamina.
4 Oct 2022

What are the duties of a mental health technician? ›

Duties and Responsibilities

Provides care to patients in a manner that promotes safety, comfort, and the therapeutic environment. Assists patients with activities of daily living; attends to patient behavioral problems and provides assistance in crisis intervention, as needed.

What qualities do you need to be a mental health worker? ›

Personal characteristics and skills required (mental health...
  • problem solving.
  • good judgement.
  • offering advice.
  • observational.
  • interpersonal communication.
  • psychosocial.

Why do you want to be in this role? ›

Talk about specific examples of how you can help this company achieve their goals and highlight any relevant transferrable skills that will make you stand out as the right candidate. Write down any recent achievements you can talk about or any challenges you've faced recently that might be related to this new job.

What do you consider your strength? ›

In general, your strengths should be skills that can be supported through experience. For example, if you list communication as a strength, you may want to recall a situation in which you used communication to reach a goal or resolve a problem.

What is the purpose of technician? ›

Technicians inspect, analyze, and troubleshoot client systems and equipment. They run tests and interpret the results to make the effective recommendations to fix faulty or broken equipment. When necessary during repairs, they will source replacement parts and negotiate costs with suppliers and clients.

What are the 3 most popular questions asked at any interview? ›

Study this list of popular and frequently asked interview questions and answers ahead of time so you'll be ready to answer them with confidence.
  • What Are Your Weaknesses? ...
  • Why Should We Hire You? ...
  • Why Do You Want to Work Here? ...
  • What Are Your Goals? ...
  • Why Did You Leave (or Why Are You Leaving) Your Job?

How do you calm an angry patient? ›

Let's look at the “Steps for Defusing Angry Patients”:
  1. Do not take it personally. ...
  2. Be proactive. ...
  3. Calm yourself before you respond. ...
  4. Listen for the real message. ...
  5. Reassure and respect. ...
  6. Restate their concerns. ...
  7. Respond to their problem. ...
  8. Restart.
1 May 2010

How do you stay calm with an angry patient? ›

7 Tips for Handling an Angry Patient
  1. Invest some time. Sometimes a patient's anger is really a cry for help or attention. ...
  2. Dial up the empathy. ...
  3. Keep your cool. ...
  4. Mind your body language. ...
  5. Physically protect yourself. ...
  6. Legally protect yourself. ...
  7. Try to end the conversation on a positive note.
17 Jun 2016

How do you handle a patient yelling at you? ›

If a patient is angry enough to verbally abuse you, remain calm and professional. Keep some distance between you and the patient and do not respond until the verbal barrage is over. When it is, speak softly and call the patient by name.

Can you work under pressure best answer? ›

Short Answers

"I work well under pressure because I use the pressure to help me work more efficiently." "I enjoy working under pressure because I believe it helps me grow. In my previous experience, I always worked well during deadlines, and I always learned how to work more efficiently afterwards."

How do you answer tell me about a stressful situation? ›

You can follow these steps to answer interview questions about stress effectively:
  1. Think about how you usually handle stress. ...
  2. Use a story or specific examples. ...
  3. Focus on how you overcame the challenge. ...
  4. Talk about the results of your approach. ...
  5. Be prepared for additional questions.

What can you bring to the company? ›

How to (and how not to) answer the interview question 'What can you bring to the company? ' The simple answer to this question is you : you bring all of your skills, qualities, values, interests, academic knowledge, internships and life experience to the company.

What qualities make you a good candidate? ›

Desired Candidate Attributes
  • Leadership. Even in entry-level positions, most employers look for evidence of leadership qualities. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Dependability and a Strong Work Ethic. ...
  • Maturity and a Professional Attitude. ...
  • Adaptability and Flexibility. ...
  • Good Personality.

Can you fail a behavioral interview? ›

Because behavioral interviews are not technical, many candidates do not take the time to properly prepare for them, but you can easily lose your chances of getting a job by doing poorly in the behavioral interview.

How do you introduce yourself in a behavioral interview? ›

Here is our simple formula—a four-step process—for answering this question as it pertains to the job—and organization—at hand.
  1. Mention your past experiences + current job. ...
  2. Tie those learnings into what you want to do going forward. ...
  3. Mention your strengths and accomplishments. ...
  4. Include a tidbit about you.

What behaviors should be avoided during interview? ›

15 job interview mistakes to avoid
  • Going in without any research. ...
  • Turning up late. ...
  • Dressing inappropriately. ...
  • Fidgeting with your mobile phone and other distractions. ...
  • Poor body language. ...
  • Unclear answers and rambling. ...
  • Speaking negatively about current or past employers. ...
  • Having zero questions to ask.
10 Feb 2022

How do you pass a technical assessment? ›

Top 10 Tips To Pass A Technical Aptitude Test
  1. Step 1: Get the foundations in place. ...
  2. Step 2: Practice past tests. ...
  3. Step 3: Find new ways to learn. ...
  4. Step 4: Master the mechanical questions. ...
  5. Step 5: Get to grips with spatial questions. ...
  6. Step 6: Ensure you're comfortable with the numerical questions.
19 Jul 2021

What do you do if you can't answer a technical question in an interview? ›

What to do when you can't answer an interview question
  1. Focus on maintaining a professional appearance. ...
  2. Ask them to clarify information about the question. ...
  3. Provide the information you have on the topic. ...
  4. Explain the steps you can take to learn the answer.

How do you answer a question you don't know in technical interview? ›

Here are some steps and strategies you can use to answer interview questions you don't know with professionalism and confidence:
  1. Take your time. ...
  2. Think aloud. ...
  3. Admit you're unsure. ...
  4. Use flexible thinking. ...
  5. Repeat the question. ...
  6. Ask follow-up questions. ...
  7. Offer to come back to the question later. ...
  8. Acknowledge the question's value.
17 Mar 2022

Why should we hire you for no experience? ›

Why should we hire you? Make your lack of experience work in your favour. Use this as a strength and tell the panel you are fresh, enthusiastic, hungry and ready to get started! You want the panel to hire you because of your passion for this job and how much you are attracted to their company.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

What do you say in an interview if you have no experience? ›

Using your own words, try something along the lines of: "I am interested in an entry-level position. I know I have much to learn, and I'm looking for an opportunity that will let me build a solid professional foundation.

How do you demonstrate good mental health? ›

5 steps to mental wellbeing
  1. Connect with other people. Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. ...
  2. Be physically active. Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. ...
  3. Learn new skills. ...
  4. Give to others. ...
  5. Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)

What are the qualities you need to work with patient with mental health problems? ›

Personal characteristics and skills required (mental health...
  • problem solving.
  • good judgement.
  • offering advice.
  • observational.
  • interpersonal communication.
  • psychosocial.

Why do you want to work in mental health answer? ›

Example answers

I enjoy knowing that I can use my empathy and compassion to offer them support in challenging times. I believe I have many valuable skills that can help me succeed as a mental health counselor, and I'm excited about pursuing this profession so I can help others with their mental health issues."

How do you prepare for a mental interview? ›

6 ways to mentally prepare for an interview
  1. Develop some practice questions. ...
  2. Perform deep breathing exercises. ...
  3. Visualize positive results. ...
  4. Give yourself positive affirmations. ...
  5. Try to relax your body. ...
  6. Find an outlet for your energy.

What are 5 examples of good mental health? ›

You probably have good mental health if:
  • you are confident when faced with new situations or people.
  • you feel optimistic.
  • you do not always blame yourself.
  • you set goals.
  • you feel good about yourself.
  • you have good self esteem.

How do you support a patient mentally? ›

What emotional support can I offer?
  1. Listen. Simply giving someone space to talk, and listening to how they're feeling, can be really helpful in itself. ...
  2. Offer reassurance. Seeking help can feel lonely, and sometimes scary. ...
  3. Stay calm. ...
  4. Be patient. ...
  5. Try not to make assumptions. ...
  6. Keep social contact.

How do you communicate with a patient with a mental illness? ›

Talking to Mental Health Patients/Clients
  1. Actively listen by validating how patients/clients feel:
  2. Ask if events have triggered memories of other situations or events:
  3. Avoid clinical, diagnostic and pathological language:
  4. Communicate person to person rather than “expert” to “victim:”

What makes a good mental health worker? ›

Mental Health Support Worker skills and qualifications

Empathy and interpersonal and relationship building skills. Excellent psychological skills to understand the mental state of patients. Excellent problem-solving skills and ability to work in stressful situations. Ability to support patients with mental illnesses.

What makes a good mental health support worker? ›

Have a strong, flexible mental aptitude and adapt to unpredictable situations. Cope with the physical demands of this mental health role. Be able to work with people with challenging behaviour. Encourage and motivate people to make positive changes.

Why do you think you are suitable for this position? ›

This is a great answer as the interviewee mentions important skills in the job description and highlights the success of the business and their part in achieving this success. “I am motivated to perform well but also help others, regardless of the position I am in, I do help others in the team or other departments.

What questions are asked on a mental status exam? ›

The Mental Status Exam (MSE)
  • Appearance: How does the patient look? ...
  • Level of alertness: Is the patient conscious? ...
  • Speech: Is it normal in tone, volume and quantity?
  • Behavior: Pleasant? ...
  • Awareness of environment, also referred to as orientation: Do they know where they are and what they are doing here?

What are 10 most common interview questions and answers? ›

10 most common interview questions and answers
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • Tell me about your strengths.
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Tell me about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

What kind of questions are asked in mental assessment? ›

You'll answer questions about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You may be asked about your symptoms in more detail, such as how they affect your day-to-day life, what makes them better or worse, and whether and how you've tried to manage them on your own.

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