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The Job of a Behavioral Health Assistant

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Behavioral health awareness continues to rise in the US, but so do behavioral health issues. Around 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a year. However, there are ways to help, including becoming a Behavioral Health Assistant.

If you enjoy helping people and exploring psychological issues, you may want to become a Behavioral Health Assistant. Behavioral Health Assistants are also called support workers. They can play a pivotal role in the behavioral health care system.

Are you interested in the behavioral health field? Or do you want to become a Behavioral Health Assistant? Read on to learn everything you need to know about the role of a Behavioral Health Assistant.

What Does a Behavioural Health Assistant Do? 

Behavioral Health Assistants can have various responsibilities because they work in multiple settings. However, essentially they assist and support patients with behavioral health difficulties. 

A Behavioral Health Assistant usually works under the supervision of a team, which can include:

  • Registered nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Counselors
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists

The daily life of a Behavioral Health Assistant can vary depending on patient needs, the setting, and the goals for the shift. They often complete administrative tasks, such as patient notes, alongside working directly with clients.

Behavioral Health Assistant Responsibilities

A Behavioral Health Assistant is part of a team but has responsibilities. Responsibilities are centered on helping those suffering from behavioral health difficulties, but their role may involve many different tasks. Here are some of the typical Behavioral Health Assistant’s responsibilities.

Writing Treatment Plans and Patient Notes

A Behavioral Health Assistant will often work alongside the rest of the patient’s team to develop treatment plans. This may include attending meetings with the team, patient, and caregivers.

Treatment plans help focus patient care, identify risks, and plan long-term recovery. Sometimes Behavioral Health Assistants will also complete other administrative tasks, such as patient notes for the shift or making notes of conversations with relatives.

Monitoring Patients

A Behavioral Health Assistant’s job description will often include monitoring patients. Monitoring may consist of observation if a patient is at risk or reporting to supervising staff if they notice a change in a patient. It frequently involves conversations regarding the client’s progress toward goals that have been set.

Assisting Therapy Sessions

Some become Behavioral Health Assistants and then take further education and training to become social workers, counselors, or therapists. The Behavioral Health Assistant’s role may include opportunities to assist in a group, family, or individual therapy work. Assistance in therapeutic care will likely require supervision from the rest of the behavioral health team.

A Behavioral health assistant will often provide emotional support for clients as they work directly with them.

Supporting Patient Independence 

A Behavioral Health Assistant also upholds patient care and supports independent living for patients. They will prepare patients for different activities, such as medical visits and other tasks contributing to their independence. Patient care plans will be tailored to support this.

Administrative Work

The importance of Behavioral Health Assistants means they support allied health professionals differently. Part of a Behavioral Assistant’s job description involves administrative work. This includes organizing documents, answering phones, and scheduling appointments. 

Where Do They Work?

Behavioral Health Assistants are needed in a variety of settings. Settings can include outpatient psychiatric facilities, community-based group facilities, counseling centers, and group homes.

Behavioral Health Assistant Skills

So, what skills does a Behavioral Health Assistant need? The main skills include having compassion, boundaries, and patience. It is also essential to be able to manage pressure and communicate effectively.

Other skills include:

  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Mental health knowledge
  • Ability to work flexible hours
  • Behavioral health assistant certificate
  • Passion for helping others

The daily life of a Behavioral health assistant is not set. It is essential to have an interest in behavioral health and the ability to adapt to stressful situations. Communication skills are vital to working with patients and families in a team environment.

Behavioral Health Assistant Job Prospects

Behavioral Health Assistants have the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings. Job prospects depend on the job and level of experience.

Depending on your qualifications and experience, you can also complete further training later. Some Behavioral Health Assistants later train as social workers, counselors, or psychologists.

Become a Behavioral Health Assistant

To become a Behavioral Health Assistant, consider taking a certificate program. A Behavioral Health Assistant certificate aims to provide the behavioral health field with knowledgeable and skilled technicians. Services often include:

  • Community integration
  • Skills development
  • Assertive community treatment
  • Family psycho-education 

Some people also take a Behavioral Health Assistant certificate if they are already in a job. The certificate program may be completed in as little as 52 weeks with InterCoast Colleges in California.

You must also be aware that becoming a Behavioral Health Assistant takes commitment and passion. You can equip yourself with the knowledge and skills, but you may still need evidence that you are passionate about working in the field. It can be gratifying if you are willing to pursue this challenging career path and are passionate about behavioral health.

Start Your Behavioral Health Assistant Journey

A Behavioral Health Assistant’s description is varied and subject to the setting of the role. The importance of Behavioral Health Assistants is evident. According to, in 2020, 150 million people were living in a designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Area.  

Becoming a Behavioral Health Assistant means working with people with behavioral health difficulties. It can be a challenging, humbling, and fulfilling role. If you are interested in learning more, consider our Behavioral health assistant certificate program.

At InterCoast Colleges, we offer an Alcohol and Drug Counseling program and a Behavioral Health Assistant program. Contact us today to learn more.

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