The need for mental health addiction counselors, already increasing in the past decade, soared in the United States after the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic rolled through the country in spring 2020. The mental and psychological effects of COVID-19, including months of isolation, have resulted in a surge of patients seeking help to combat anxiety and depression.
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association put numbers to the issue. The survey asked psychologists to talk about some of the most significant changes they have seen since the pandemic started.
- 84 percent saw an increased demand for treatment of anxiety
- 72 percent saw an increased demand for treatment of depression
- 62 percent saw increased demand for trauma- and stress-related disorders
- Other areas where demand increased included sleep-wake disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and substance-related and addictive disorders
The growing opportunities in addiction counseling have led many psychologists to earn a Master in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Specialization. The program is designed for students inspired to reach the highest level of their skills. Professionals help people overcome the addictions that hinder fulfilling, authentic lives with these skills.
Are Mental Health and Addiction Counselors in Demand?
According to the American Psychological Association, the rising need for mental health services leaves many substance abuse counselors and mental health counselors with long patient waitlists. While more psychologists in 2021 reported they have been able to maintain a work-life balance, the APA wrote that “reports of burnout and the inability to meet patient demand have also increased in the same time frame.”
In its 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, the non-profit organization Mental Health America found that 47.1 million people in the U.S. (about 19 percent of the population) live with mental health issues, an increase of 1.5 million people from 2020. The mental and psychological effects of COVID-19 have helped drive those numbers.
These factors inform the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections of a 23 percent increase in substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors by 2030. That’s far above the 8 percent growth projected for all fields.
What’s Driving the Increased Demand for Counselors?
According to MHA, the “loneliness and isolation” caused by the pandemic is fueling the increase in mental health counselor jobs and addiction counselor jobs. They added that the 2021 report “confirms the trend that mental health in the U.S. continues to get worse and many states are ill-prepared to handle this crisis and policymakers at every level of government need to act immediately.”
The BLS mentions the pandemic as a factor in the growth of the mental health counseling profession. However, other issues also contribute to growing opportunities in the field. They include the retirement of older therapists and some states mandating counseling rather than jail time for people with addictions or mental health issues.
Even with the APA and MHA reporting that millions of people live with mental health and substance abuse disorders, most believe the numbers are underreported. The reason is that many people hesitate to seek counseling because a stigma persists among some toward mental health treatment.
Touro University Worldwide Online Psychology Degrees
Graduates from Touro’s online Master in Counseling (MAC): Addiction Counseling Specialization have a solid foundation in the various types of therapy and understand the best practices that help guide those with addictions back to self-sufficiency.
The program has no GRE or GMAT requirements and is 100% online with no residency requirement. The accelerated format curriculum offers eight-week sessions taught by scholar-practitioners with experience in the mental health and substance abuse counseling fields.
The mental and psychological effects of COVID-19 make mental health and addiction counseling services more needed than ever. For students ready to build a career helping people with addiction issues and mental health disorders, earning a graduate degree in the field opens the door to a wealth of opportunities.