Behavioral Health Administrator

One of the fastest growing fields in the public health sector is in behavioral health.  With the steadily increasing incidence of depression and anxiety within the general population, this field is rapidly coming to the forefront of addressing interventions, preventions, and treatments for the public.  A career as a behavioral health administrator would allow you to implement programs that teach wellness and coping for the psychological wellbeing of the community.

Behavioral health also examines social trends, not just in relation to emotional wellbeing, but also in regards to actions that could be a hazard to personal or public safety.  This can include reactionary events such as anger expression, but can also apply to demographic trends such as adherence to drunk driving laws.  As a behavioral health administrator you can find a career that has great growth potential and good wages, while you are also helping to educate the community about habits and emotional expression.

What Is A Behavioral Health Administrator?

A behavioral health administrator essentially works to create programs and outreach to provide mental health services to the community.  You would be partnering with other mental health professionals to develop and implement programs for the public, as well as creating avenues of access so that individuals are able to benefit from the services that are available.  This can include evaluating community needs in order to create applicable services for that community.

Along with developing and implementing new services, you would also be responsible for evaluating existing programs and resources.  This will include reviewing demographic data and charting changes that are occurring.  The strengths or weaknesses of facilities and outreach would be considered, and in conjunction with case managers, you would help to enact changes that benefit the public.

Although specific tasks can vary depending on the needs of the community, as a behavioral health administrator, your daily duties would include the following:

  •   Evaluating case histories to determine the effects of current mental health services.
  •   Reviewing public needs through surveys and individual interactions.
  •   Developing new mental health services and programs based on community requirements.
  •   Implementing programs for mental health and monitoring efficacy.
  •   Collaborating with mental health and case workers to establish protocols.
  •   Attaining funding for the implementation of programs and services.
  •   Creating educational and outreach campaigns to promote services to the public.
  •   Submitting progress and evaluation reports to the municipal public health department.
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As a behavioral health administrator your will need qualities that allow you to operate within an office setting as well as interact with people.  Some of the traits that are sought after for this position include:

  •   Leadership:  You will be required to take charge and delegate tasks among the mental health professionals and case workers that you partner with.  This will include listening to concerns and information and deciding on the best course of action to address them.
  •   Management Skills:  As a behavioral health administrator you will also be required to oversee the function of facilities and programs and the direction of new interventions.  This will require you to be organized and time efficient in your own habits, and to hold others accountable in the same respect. 
  •   Empathy:  Since this job focuses on public mental health, you will also need to be able to connect with people in the community so that you can better understand their needs.  Along with listening skill, you will be required to establish trust, bonding, and connection as well.
  •   Communication:  Written and verbal communications are an absolute must for this position.  In dealing with other professionals and developing strategies you will need to be clear and concise, while your interactions with the public may require different approaches to connect with the community for educational purposes.
  •   Critical Thinking:  When analyzing existing services and developing new strategies, you will need to be able to engage in creative problem solving.  Your ability to identify problems, obstacles, and factors that play into this will also allow you to come up with valid plans of action.

Nature Of The Work

As a behavioral health administrator you can find yourself in a variety of settings.  A large amount of this job is office based, but there are also community and outreach aspects that will have you in the field assessing programs and needs.  In the administrative aspect you may work out of the public health department, or in conjunction with universities and mental health facilities as you research new implementation of services. 

Your interactions with the public will include general assessments and one on one interviews to determine the needs of the community.  Behavioral health administrators may also be required to conduct lectures and educational workshops with the public.  This aspect of the job will include designing the structure of the event and creating any necessary literature or handouts, as well as leading interactive discussions and learning sessions.

Education And Training

A four year degree in psychology or health and wellness administration is a general requirement for this position.  Having prior experience in a clinical and an administrative setting is also helpful in landing a position as a behavioral health administrator.  Depending upon the needs of the municipality, you may require further education in either nursing or psychology, but the four year degree is a minimum expectation.

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You will also need to undergo a background check for this position.  This will include an evaluation of your own mental health, and some positions will also ask for competency testing before you can be considered for this position.  The combination of clinical knowledge and management experience are highly evaluated for applicants on this career path.

Behavioral health administrators can enjoy a job that gives the satisfaction of helping individual and community needs, and that has a high growth rate for employment and salary.  Most behavioral health administrators average around nearly $60,000 a year, but even entry level applicants can receive a salary of around $45,000.  Advancement in this position can help you to earn as much as $75,000 annually.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this is one of the faster growth careers in public health, with an expected employment rise of around 21% over the next decade.  If you chose to become a behavioral health administrator, you can enjoy stability in your work position while promoting emotional stability in the community.

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