Mental health professionals play a key role in the U.S. workforce. Most of these jobs will continue to expand in the coming years.

There are more than one million mental health professionals in the U.S., including:

  • psychiatrists
  • psychologists
  • therapists
  • counselors
  • social workers

These individuals help their clients cope with stress and trauma, manage mental illness and substance use disorders, and build healthier relationships.

Over the next decade, these professions will continue to grow and play a critical role in the U.S. workforce.

Mental health professionals play a key role in our country by promoting mental health and providing support and treatment for those with mental health challenges.

Here’s a breakdown of the number of mental health professionals in the United States.


Psychologists are doctoral-level trained professionals who study human behavior, thoughts, and emotions. They use their knowledge to help you improve your mental health and overall well-being.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 181,600 psychologist jobs in 2021.

Psychologists can work in a variety of settings, such as:

  • private practice
  • hospitals
  • schools
  • research institutions

Some of the tasks that psychologists perform include:

  • providing therapy
  • assessing and diagnosing mental health problems
  • conducting research
  • teaching and training
  • consultation

It’s projected that there will be about 14,100 openings for psychologists each year over the next decade. The industry is expected to increase 6% (about average).


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and emotional disorders. They have extensive training in both medicine and psychology, which allows them to offer a wide range of treatment options to their patients.

There were 25,530 psychiatrists in 2019, according to the BLS.

Psychiatrists may perform the following tasks:

  • diagnose mental health disorders
  • prescribe medication
  • in some cases, provide therapy
  • collaborate with other professionals, such as psychologists or social workers, to provide comprehensive care
  • manage treatment plans

Psychiatrists have a wide range of employment opportunities and can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • hospitals (general and psychiatric)
  • private practice
  • community mental health centers
  • universities and research institutions
  • government agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs or the National Institutes of Health

Counselors: Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health

Counselors offer guidance, support, and interventions to help you develop the skills and resources you need to lead a healthy, fulfilling life. Counselors work in a variety of settings, including:

  • private practice
  • community health centers
  • schools
  • rehabilitation centers

Counselors may perform the following tasks:

  • offer support and guidance
  • provide therapy (e.g. help you develop coping skills, improve communication and problem-solving abilities)
  • develop treatment plans
  • refer clients to other services (psychiatric or medical care, support groups, or community resources)

In 2021, there were 351,000 counselors who helped people with mental health problems, behavioral disorders, and substance abuse disorders, according to the BLS.

These occupations are projected to grow 22% over the next decade. This is a much faster rate than average for all occupations. It’s projected that there will be about 43,600 openings for these positions over the next decade.

Marriage and family therapists

Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are trained professionals who specialize in helping couples and families improve their relationships and communication.

These professionals may work with individuals, couples, and families to address a wide range of issues related to relationships, including communication problems, conflict resolution, and coping with major life changes.

Marriage and family therapists may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct assessments to determine severity of the problems
  • provide therapy
  • develop treatment plans:
  • offer education and resources
  • collaborate with other professionals, like medical doctors, social workers, and psychologists, to provide comprehensive care

In 2021, there were 65,300 marriage and family therapists in the U.S., according to the BLS. These jobs are expected to grow 14% (much faster than average) over the next decade.

Social workers

Social workers provide a wide range of services to help individuals, families, and communities overcome challenges and achieve better outcomes. They focus on building relationships and helping people access resources, solve problems, and improve their lives.

Social workers may help people cope with the following challenges:

  • poverty
  • unemployment
  • abuse
  • addiction
  • mental health problems
  • any issues that impact a person’s ability to function effectively

In 2021, there were 708,100 social workers, according to the BLS. This includes 113,810 social workers who specifically worked in mental health and substance abuse in 2021.

Overall, this occupation is expected to grow 9% (faster than average) over the next decade. An average of 74,700 openings for social workers are projected each year, over the next decade.

Most mental health occupations, including counselors, therapists, and social workers, are projected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

The demand for mental health services is increasing due to:

  • a growing awareness of the importance of mental health care
  • the aging of the population
  • the expansion of insurance coverage for mental health services
  • a reduction in stigma regarding accessing care