New mental health services minor prepares future health professionals


The substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling field is projected to grow by 22 percent within the next 10 years, and South Dakota State University is reacting with a mental health services minor.

The new minor was created by the Department of Psychology to better prepare students entering mental health fields and was approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents in June. 

The minor will allow students majoring in human development and family studies, nursing, psychology, sociology and other majors to have a better understanding of mental health services, according to the SDBOR.

 Bradley Woldt, psychology department head, has taken charge of the mental health services minor at SDSU.

“From being an adviser in New Student Orientation, I have had several psychology majors express their interest in the mental health services minor,” Woldt said. “I think that there is a good interest and that it will be a strong program.”   

 Though the mental health services minor is mainly focused in human development and family studies, psychology, and sociology departments, the minor is available to anyone interested in it. 

“In the College of Arts and Sciences, we are looking for preparing students with skills that gives them a bit more preparation to go into the workforce with a bachelor’s degree,” Woldt said.

 The program will introduce students to a wide range of professions including counseling, case management, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling. 

 According to the SDBOR document, this minor helps equip students with an knowledge and skills that complement their major. This helps prepare them for positions in related fields or pursue graduate training in mental health services.

 The profession with the highest demand from 2014 to 2024 is expected to be substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling, according to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other growing professions include rehabilitation counseling and psychiatric technicians.

 Students with this minor will take required courses, such as ethics and helping professions, psychological therapies, psychological abnormal behavior and other related electives. 

The Department of Psychology doesn’t permit the double use of courses to count toward both a major and a minor. This means that if a student is taking a certain class for their major, they would not be able to use that class for their mental health services minor. More information about the minor can be found on SDSU’s website under academics.

Over the last few years, mental health has become more prominent due to an increase in people coming forward and seeking treatment, Woldt said. This means that the demand for professions in this field will be quite high.

“I would want someone that is interested in the mental health services minor to have genuine interest in helping others, be empathetic and have an interest in social justice,” Woldt said.