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Mental Health Client Specialist I

The County of Santa Cruz job header
(The County of Santa Cruz)

JOB SUMMARY: Under general supervision, to provide a variety of professional mental health and/or substance abuse services and related administrative functions in support of clients and their families, including case management, short term crisis intervention, evaluation, counseling, and/or assisting in the implementation of appropriate treatment or service plans and to do other work as required. Bilingual Mental Health Client Specialist positions require that the mental health and/or substance abuse clinician be fully fluent in Spanish and English to provide the full range of professional level mental health and/or substance abuse services in Spanish, including the facilitation of individual, group, family, and crisis counseling. Bilingual clinicians may be asked to translate written clinical materials and interpret for Spanish speaking clients that need to communicate with monolingual English-speaking mental health and/or substance abuse professionals. Applicants who have completed a master’s degree in behavioral health counseling or social work-related fieldareencouragedtoapply.

BENEFITS: Paid holidays, excellent benefits, and CalPERS retirement! The County of Santa Cruz offers a generous benefits package which includes annual leave, paid holidays, medical, dental, vision and retirement benefits!

Salary: $6,110 – 7,724 / Month

Bilingual (Spanish/English) candidates are highly encouraged to apply!


  • A master’s degree from an accredited college or university in psychology, social work, counseling, or closely related behavioral science field.
  • AND One year as a Mental Health Client Specialist I or equivalent experience.
  • OR A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in psychology, counseling, or closely related behavioral science field.
  • AND Three years full-time experience in a recognized public or private agency providing mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, psycho-social assessment, or case management services to individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, or emotional disturbance, which includes a minimum of two years’ experience in providing crisis intervention services in the community or in an inpatient psychiatric program.
  • *Educational counseling may be considered for up to 50 percent of qualifying experience for assignments in Children’s Mental Health.

License Requirement: Possession of a valid California Class C Driver License, or the ability to provide suitable transportation which is approved by the appointing authority.

Alcohol and Drug Assignment: All persons providing alcohol and drug counseling services within the Alcohol and Drug Program must be certified as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor OR be licensed as a mental health professional, OR within six (6) months of the date of hire, all non-licensed individuals, pursuant to California Code of Regulations, Title 9, Division 4, Chapter 8, Subchapter 2, or non-certified individuals providing counseling services in an AOD program, must be registered to obtain certification as an AOD counselor by one of the approved certifying organization (CCR, Section 13035(f)).

Other Special Requirements/Conditions:

All assignments: Exposure to offensive odors such as unwashed people and clothes, human, and animal feces; the possibility of infections which may cause chronic disease or death; hostile or violent individuals and may be exposed to cigarette smoke. Juvenile Hall and Acute/Emergency Services assignments: Exposure to noise, such as people yelling. Children’s Service assignment: Exposure to disturbing material, such as photos of abused children; allergens such as poison oak, insect stings or bites, and pollens. Some positions may require lifting objects such as boxes of belongings weighing up to fifty pounds.

Note: Persons in this classification may be assigned to positions with any of the above working conditions on an emergency, as needed basis.

Special Requirements: Positions may be assigned to carry a pager and respond to crisis situations and perform “on-call” or call/back duties. Work situations may include evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Knowledge: Working knowledge of symptoms and behaviors of major mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders; basic social rehabilitation, socialization and practical life management skills; psychosocial aspects and characteristics of emotional disturbances, substance abuse and mental illness; principles and methods of interviewing, counseling, crisis intervention and assessing psychosocial behaviors; human behavior and development; and problems, attitudes, and needs of the emotionally or socially disturbed. Some knowledge of community resources; pharmacology of medications and psychotropic drugs; and laws and regulations as they pertain to clients’ rights.

Ability to: Assess clients’ behavioral, substance use and emotional problems/conditions, making knowledgeable recommendations and/or designing appropriate service plans; interview clients and record pertinent information in an effective manner, obtaining accurate social, personal, and psychosocial information; conduct effective individual and group mental health/substance abuse services with assigned clients including adults with serious mental and/or substance use disorders, individuals in crisis, and/or children with emotional disturbance and/or substance abuse under supervision; participate effectively with assigned treatment or case management team; prepare a variety of administrative and professional reports; learn the appropriate laws, regulations, Agency policies and procedures of health and social service programs; communicate effectively and persuasively in both oral and written form; establish and maintain effective work relationships with those contacted in the performance of required duties; learn to input and access data utilizing a computer; distinguish speech and non-speech sounds in noisy environments; intervene and diffuse situations involving combative clients which may include active restraint if needed; and stand and walk for extended periods of time may be required for some positions.

HOW TO APPLY: If interested, please submit an online application here.