What is Human Services?
The Human Services profession is the art and science of helping people. Students learn the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to be a successful professional in the fields of:
- Addiction Studies
- Domestic Violence Counseling
- High Risk Youth
- Mental Health Counseling
- Nonprofit Studies
Department Mission Statement
The Department of Human Services at Metropolitan State University of Denver prepares students to become competent, self-reflective practitioners in the delivery of human services. At the core of the curriculum is an emphasis on experiential learning both in the classroom and through intensive field experience. The department is committed to supporting students to develop high ethical standards and cultural sensitivity while becoming agents for positive change in people's lives and in their communities.
The History of Human Services
Prompted by the civil unrest in the U.S. in the late 1950s, people questioned how issues such as:
- Different physical and mental developmental abilities
- Mental illness
- Substance abuse
could be addressed from a perspective of equity and social justice. The civil rights movement of the 1960s produced a new approach: people who had “been there” began helping others in their own communities. The mental health paraprofessional was born.
Purdue University offered the first associate’s degree in mental health in 1956. The National Institute of Mental Health later gave a grant to Dr. Harold McPheeters of the Southern Regional Education Board to develop college-level mental health education. Many see him as the founder of the Human Services profession.
President John F. Kennedy, whose sister was developmentally challenged, was instrumental in passing the Community Mental Health Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act in 1963. This legislation helped formalize educational preparation for mental health practice.
The National Organization for Human Services Education (NOHSE; later NOHS) was founded in 1975. Standards for human service education programs and practice (training, program review, and ethics) were established the following year.
MSU Denver began offering an associate’s degree in Helping Services in 1968. Four years later the Bachelor of Science degree was introduced. The program was originally designated HSW—Human Services Workers—but became HSP—Human Services Professionals—in 1990.