Job Outlook for Mental Health Counselors

In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment of mental health counselors will grow 23 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is "much faster" than the average growth rate for all occupations. At that time, the BLS estimated that there were 157,700 people working as mental health counselors in the U.S., which means that a 23 percent increase would add 36,500 new mental health counseling jobs, bringing the total up to 194,200 by 2026.

The BLS cited increased demand for counseling for military veterans as one driver of this growth. Backing up this claim, Southern California Public Radio reported in June 2014 that the Veterans Administration (VA) is struggling to keep up with demand for mental health services, causing some veterans to seek services outside of the VA. The VA Greater L.A. Healthcare System saw a 40 percent increase in veterans seeking mental health services from 2007 to 2013, while the VA Long Beach Healthcare System has seen almost a 60 percent increase during the same time period.