County of Alameda

Forensic Mental Health Specialist (#6532)

Bargaining Unit: SEIU 1021 - Hospital Para Prof (008)
$42.27-$51.38 Hourly / $3,170.25-$3,853.50 BiWeekly /
$6,868.88-$8,349.25 Monthly / $82,426.50-$100,191.00 Yearly

Under supervision, provides a variety of paraprofessional mental health, substance use, peer counseling, and education services to incarcerated Alameda County Behavioral Health (ACBH) clients; assists in the development and implementation of treatment and discharge plans and monitors client progress and response to these plans; recommends and provides appropriate referrals; maintains community liaisons to ensure adequate services are made available to consumers, provides case management and care coordination services including direct linkages to community-based services; facilitates a variety of consumer-focused peer counseling, support, and education groups; participates as part of the treatment team; and performs related duties as required.


The Forensic Mental Health Specialist is a paraprofessional classification located in the Health Care Services Agency, Adult Forensic Behavioral Health Program which provides mental health services to incarcerated clients in the County jail and reports to the Forensic Behavioral Health Clinical Supervisor.  Incumbents provide mental health support, substance use counseling, and training/education to incarcerated individuals one-on-one or in groups and participate in care coordination for assigned clients. Incumbents also provide direct case management, socialization activities and services, group support, education, and re-entry planning. Incumbents conduct all their work at Santa Rita Jail (SRJ) and spend the majority of their shift in SRJ housing units. Forensic Mental Health Specialist is distinguished from the next higher class of Forensic Behavioral Health Clinician I in that the latter is part of a professional flexibly staffed series requiring State registration or licensure. 

NOTE: The following are the duties performed by employees in this classification.  However, employees may perform other related duties at an equivalent level.  Each individual in the classification does not necessarily perform all duties listed.

  1. Assists in the development of appropriate care plans for incarcerated ACBH clients; provides assistance in client treatment; observes, monitors, and charts client's behavior; may assist clients with support, counseling, and education related to mental health, substance use, and/or behavioral needs.
  2. Interviews clients and relatives to get case history information; prepares and maintains case histories for use in initial determination of client's needs and evaluations of client's progress; provides on-going documentation of all client's contacts; confers with other clinical team members.
  3. Provides individual and/or group mental health peer counseling to clients and their families, in collaboration with the primary clinician and/or clinical team.
  4. Facilitates mental health, substance use, or counseling support groups, educational groups, and classes for clients.
  5. Engages clients and develops relationships based on recovery practices and principles.
  6. May assist clients with education and coaching of personal hygiene practices and activities of daily living.
  7. Under supervision, helps in determining health care and wellness needs of clients, and assists clients and clinicians in the development of effective treatment, safety, care coordination, and re-entry plans.
  8. In collaboration with clinical staff, provides clients with interventions from a treatment plan, which may include observing individuals in the milieu and engaging the individual in safety planning as clinically appropriate for clients at risk for self-harm or experience suicidal ideation; teaches skill development (e.g., coping skills, anger management, etc.); supports mental health and substance use needs; identifies housing needs and support,  identifies vocational goals, and makes appropriate referrals.
  9. Under supervision, evaluates clients for crisis and risk; then communicates signs and behaviors to clinical staff in a timely manner. Responds appropriately to crisis situations involving clients, identifies appropriate interventions and takes effective actions in collaboration with clinical team and/or supervisor.
  10. Provides direct services to clients who may present as unstable, hostile, agitated, or intoxicated in an appropriate, effective manner; assess and de-escalate aggressive behaviors. When needed, participates in pre-planned use of force with Sheriff Deputies by applying crisis intervention, de-escalation, and coaching skills.
  11. Serves as an advocate for clients to ensure they receive necessary and timely health care services to treat their behavioral health conditions.
  12. Identifies essential client resources and refers clients to other departments, agencies or community resources for appropriate treatment, services and supports.
  13. Assists clients with completion of forms and applications for benefits and other services.
  14. Facilitates client health appointments including scheduling and facilitating face-to-face linkages in Santa Rita Jail and scheduling and coordinating transportation to appointments as needed; communicates outcomes and follow-up plans to primary clinician or treatment team.
  15. Participates in and supports a therapeutic milieu setting in the County Jail including working directly in Housing Units for the majority of the work shift.
  16. Works effectively with law enforcement, courts, state hospitals, community providers, and community members.
  17. Provides education and consultation to criminal justice partners such as the Courts, Sheriff’s Department, and medical providers in the jail; works collaboratively with the Sheriff’s Department staff to manage clients’ daily needs and activities.
  18. Participates in clinical case presentations and peer reviews.
  19. Participates as an active member of treatment teams including attending clinical team meetings, case conferences, daily huddles/rounds, and other committee meetings to coordinate care for incarcerated individuals. 
  20. Supports incarcerated individuals in discharge planning to support their re-entry plan into the community post-incarceration.
  21. Completes all required annual trainings related to working in a forensic environment.
  22. Documents services provided per departmental Quality Assurance standards and Medi-Cal requirements and submits documentation in a timely manner.
  23. Performs outreach and provides health education and information to individuals who may be at risk. 
  24. Serves as a resource specialist, with knowledge of a variety of county, community, and peer support resources in Alameda County.




The equivalent of two (2) years of full-time experience in the classification of Mental Health Specialist II. 


The equivalent of three (3) years of experience performing duties comparable to those of Mental Health Specialist I. 


Possession of a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, counseling, health education, or other health related field may be substituted for two (2) years of experience in pattern II.


Possession of a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, counseling, health education, or other health-related field. 


The equivalent of six (6) months of experience performing duties comparable to those of Mental Health Specialist II with justice-involved or at-risk individuals.


Some positions require a valid California Motor Vehicle Operator’s license. Applicants must possess such license prior to appointment to such positions.

Special Requirement:

In compliance with the Administrative Simplification provision of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), employees in this classification are required to possess a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number prior to their first day of employment.

A thorough background investigation will be conducted of all prospective Forensic Mental Health Specialists  to ensure they are suitable to work in a jail setting and must be able to obtain and maintain security clearance conducted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.  Incumbents may be assigned to workday, evening, night, and rotating shifts, including weekends and holidays. 

NOTE: The Civil Service Commission may modify the above Minimum Qualifications in the announcement of an examination.

NOTE: The level and scope of the following knowledge and abilities are related to duties listed under the "Examples of Duties" section of this specification.

Knowledge of:

  • Peer counseling and motivational support techniques for helping behavioral health consumers.
  • Representation and understanding of an individual’s lived experiences as it relates to mental health challenges, substance abuse issues and/or involvement with justice system.
  • The mental, physical, emotional, and social needs of consumers with mental health, physical health and/or substance abuse issues.
  • Principles and techniques of mental health treatment and recovery principles and practices.
  • The psychosocial aspects and characteristics of mental illness and severe emotional disturbance.
  • Principles of risk assessment, crisis intervention and treatment.
  • Harm reduction principles and practices.
  • Behavioral health programs, community organizations and resources, and peer support networks in the local community.
  • Basic understanding of mental health case management and appropriate coding, charting and documentation requirements for health care providers.
  • Elementary psychiatric and medical terminology.
  • Familiarity with medications commonly prescribed for consumers.
  • Computer applications related to work.

Ability to:

  • Relate and communicate effectively with behavioral health consumers.
  • Work effectively with staff and consumers in treatment services and as a member of an inter-disciplinary team of behavioral health care providers.
  • Provide a variety of behavioral health services to diverse consumers in a jail setting.
  • Interview and secure personal health and social information to help determine consumer needs.
  • Analyze problems, identify solutions and respond appropriately to crisis situations involving consumers.
  • Maintain and monitor records of assigned consumers.
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing.
  • Analyze, evaluate, and make sound decisions.
  • Organize and prioritize work and meet critical deadlines.
  • Interpret, explain, and apply regulations, policies, and procedures.
  • Prepare clear, accurate, and effective reports, correspondence, and other written materials.
  • Work effectively with a diverse population.

NewSpec: 6532.docx
IL:saa 12/12/2023
CSC Date:02/07/2024


Alameda County offers a comprehensive and competitive benefits package that affords wide-ranging health care options to meet the different needs of a diverse workforce and their families. We also sponsor many different employee discount, fitness and health screening programs focused on overall well being.  These benefits include but are not limited to*:

For your Health & Well-Being

  • Medical – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Dental – HMO & PPO Plans
  • Vision or Vision Reimbursement
  • Share the Savings
  • Basic Life Insurance 
  • Supplemental Life Insurance (with optional dependent coverage for eligible employees) 
  • County Allowance Credit
  • Flexible Spending Accounts - Health FSA, Dependent Care and Adoption Assistance
  • Short-Term Disability Insurance
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Voluntary Benefits - Accident Insurance, Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity and Legal Services
  • Employee Assistance Program

For your Financial Future

  • Retirement Plan - (Defined Benefit Pension Plan)
  • Deferred Compensation Plan (457 Plan or Roth Plan)

For your Work/Life Balance

  • 12 paid holidays
  • Floating Holidays
  • Vacation and sick leave accrual
  • Vacation purchase program
  • Catastrophic Sick Leave
  • Group Auto/Home Insurance
  • Pet Insurance
  • Commuter Benefits Program
  • Guaranteed Ride Home
  • Employee Wellness Program (e.g. At Work Fitness, Incentive Based Programs, Gym Membership Discounts)
  • Employee Discount Program (e.g. theme parks, cell phone, etc.)
  • Child Care Resources
  • 1st United Services Credit Union 

*Eligibility is determined by Alameda County and offerings may vary by collective bargaining agreement.  This provides a brief summary of the benefits offered and can be subject to change.


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