Psychology Master’s Degree Programs in Maine
While living in the less-densely populated cities of Maine may keep residents from experiencing the kind of stress people live with in teaming metro areas along the eastern seaboard, it isn’t without its disadvantages for anyone in need of mental health and other psychological services. With the lion’s share of money and demand coming from the big cities, a full 90% of psychologists and psychiatrists and 80% of clinical social workers serve the urban centers according to the National Association for Rural Mental Health, leaving Maine as a whole with a shortage of practitioners and just a handful of in-patient psychiatric hospitals. In a cruel twist of irony, the Center for Rural Affairs reports that depression and suicide rates are actually higher in rural areas.
Anyone who has ever spent a winter in Maine knows it’s not uncommon to go days without having the opportunity to enjoy any daylight at all. Clocking in at work before sunup and getting home after sundown is the classic formula for the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that so many here in Maine accept as the norm.
From the clinical psychologists and social workers who address severe and chronic mental illness, to the counselors and therapists who make their services available to anyone struggling under the stress of daily life, the demand for psychologists in Maine is higher than ever, and continuing to grow. A master’s degree in psychology will go a long way in helping you secure the credentials you need to help the people in your community and meet the growing demand.
Licensing Options Available with a Master’s Degree
While a full authority psychologist license in Maine requires a doctorate just as it does in other states, a master’s is a crucial stepping-stone to getting there.
A master’s along with a year of supervised experience does, however, satisfy all the requirements for a Psychological Examiner license through the Maine Board of Examiners of Psychologists. This is a unique licensing classification not found in most other states, and one that offers a real opportunity for master’s grads to establish themselves in a career that involves the authority to offer therapeutic interventions and behavior management therapy under the general supervision and guidance of a licensed psychologist.
A master’s degree, along with School Psychology Certification, also meets the requirements for a career as an educational psychologist in Maine’s school systems.
You can also get your start as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor with an undergraduate degree and 4,000 hours of supervised practice (or 2,000 if you complete 18 credits of course work in addiction counseling), or by earning a master’s and undergoing just 2,000 hours of supervised practice (1,500 if you complete 12 credits of coursework in addiction counseling).
A Rural State with a Lot of Options for Earning a Master’s in Psychology
Earning a master’s in psychology online offers the convenience and flexibility that many graduate students require, even in a state with four schools offering master’s programs.
Among them is the University of Maine offers an M.A. in Psychological Science, which offers the option to select a concentration in biological, social, or cognitive psychology, and the option to transition to a Ph.D. in Psychological Science and Clinical Psychology.
If you plan to work in the school system, it’s worth considering the M.S. in Educational Psychology at the University of Southern Maine, which meets the requirements for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential through the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, making it the obvious choice for anyone interested in working with school-aged children and others with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Geriatric Depression Means Higher Demand for Psychologists
With concerns over opioid addiction and mental health for students, one group is often overlooked when it comes to depression. Adults over the age of 65 are extremely vulnerable to despondency due to loss of loved ones, health issues and other end-of-life concerns.
In Maine those rates of depression are higher than average. According to the 2013 Senior Report from America’s Health Rankings, the state’s seniors have the third highest incidence of depression in the nation.
Programs like the ones at the Geriatric Center at Maine Medical Health Center are staffed with master’s-prepared psychological examiners who give attention to the mental health issues that often accompany aging. Following a whole-person model of care, patients are assigned an entire team of health professionals, including a social worker to ensure the mental and emotional health needs of this vulnerable population are taken into account.
Special Report on Mental Health in Maine
The opioid crisis has been a top concern in the U.S. and Maine is no exception. According to a special report published by the Department of Health and Human Services; Mental Health in Maine, “adults with any mental illness are three times as likely to abuse and/or qualify as dependent on substances.” In addition, it reported that adolescents that experience any serious depression are twice as likely to use illegal drugs.
These factors indicate a significant need for additional psychological assistance in the form of dependency counseling and other interventions. Although a master’s degree in psychology is not a state requirement in Maine to obtain a Substance Abuse Counseling Certification, it does significantly reduce the amount of experience hours significantly
Suicide Rates in Maine on the Rise in Both Adults and Adolescents
The Maine Suicide Prevention Program reported suicide as the second leading cause of death in adolescents between the ages of 10-24 from 2012-2014. In February, 2018, a seventh grade student at a Yarmouth middle school committed suicide, sending waves of shock and grief through the tight-nit community. When a child that young takes her own life, it shines a spotlight even brighter on the mental health needs of the children in Maine.
The Maine Suicide Prevention Program is working to address the crisis head-on, developing prevention measures specifically designed to be implemented in the schools. This has been driving the demand for trained psychologists to ensure that all components of the programs are rolled out quickly.
Adolescents are not the only group susceptible to suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Maine’s suicide rate has continued a steady climb upward since 2008. A 2016 CDC report indicated the rate of suicides in Maine to be about five percent higher than the national average. Suicide hotlines are the main line of defense in the state, but those typically only stop the immediate threat.
More substantial help for the mentally ill is urgently needed, which is a call to action to those thinking of a career in psychology. Now is the time to start that journey to a master’s degree, and a long and rewarding career serving the communities in the great state of Maine.