Every job has its challenges and rewards. But, rarely are the rewards as frequent as the ones found in mental health careers. Providing someone with the tools to go forth and live a prosperous life is a feeling few jobs can provide.
If you love people and have a general ability to build a good rapport with those you meet, then you may be naturally inclined to take on any number of positions within the mental health field.
From online talk therapy to prescription medication, there are a number of ways to bring people’s hopes and dreams for a successful life to fruition. Let’s take a look at the landscape of the mental health field. We think you’ll find your place in no time at all.
One in Four People Need You
Did you know one in four adults suffers from mental illness? That means about 26% of the American population is walking around with a diagnosable disease that can be pinpointed, labeled, and overcome.
More than that, some mental illnesses like to pair up and tear down individuals. These are known as co-occurring disorders. It’s difficult for anyone to battle back this sort of attack alone. When you step into the picture through any number of behavioral health careers, you’re armoring people who are in battle, helping them move forward to live successful lives.
Do You Have the Required Skills?
Since you’ll be dealing with people in their most delicate states, you’ll be required to have a wide range of skills. Here’s a sampling of some of the most important attributes:
- Boundaries– Some clients may share commonalities with your own, personal life. That’s fine; in fact, that may be part of the reason why you want to work in mental health. Just remember to maintain healthy boundaries; make it about the client and never overshare your personal stories.
- Compassion– One of your primary goals will be to put your clients at ease. Remember that their struggle is real and you’re here to help them gain clarity and vision.
- Desire to Help– Of course, a unique desire to help others overcome life’s burdens will be paramount.
- Empathy– Unfortunately, you won’t be able to help anyone if you have a spirit of judgment. You’ll need to lack judgment and be full of empathy so you can meet your clients where they are and help them through the struggle.
- Ethics – Deeply personal information will be shared with you. Only enter into this line of work if you’re sure you’ll never be tempted to go home and share your clients’ personal details with friends and family.
- Listening Skills– Much of what you’ll be doing is listening. As you learn more about your clients’ experiences, you can start doling out the tools of the trade. But, first, you must let them share as much as they can so you don’t make any false assumptions.
- Organization Skills– Throughout your days, you’ll have to juggle appointments on your calendar, treatment plans, and other follow-up details. A keen sense of organization will be important to help you make sure you don’t let anyone down, miss any appointments, or forget details.
- Good Rapport– Compassion, empathy, and listening skills will help you here. But, it’s important to build a good rapport with each of your clients. They should feel comfortable and relaxed with you. Sessions can almost sound conversational when done right.
- Record-Keeping Skills – This goes back to strong organization skills. Each client will need a file and this will be important not only for the formation of treatment plans but also for billing and insurance purposes. Strong record-keeping skills will help you eliminate a lot of the paperwork that takes place in between client sessions.
- Technological Savvy– Depending on where you work, certain software programs will be required to maintain records, treatment plans, and calendar appointments. A bit of computer savvy will save you time throughout your day.
Do You Like People?
A lot of this boils down to one question: do you like people? Are you a student of people? Do you want to help them pinpoint the root of their struggles and offer them coping skills to move forward into a successful life?
If so, then you’re hot on the right trail. If you have a desire to show people they can do more than live their lives in darkness, then you’re going to love the next chapter of your life. Enabling positive change, offering encouragement, and presenting toolkits are wonderful actions to hang your hat on at the end of every day.
Getting help is a scary road for most. Facing down demons is not a walk in the park. Some clients will resist you; others will be so beaten down, they’ll be open to most anything. Both dispositions are entrances into a world full of promise and you can hand that out.
List of Impactful Careers
The list of careers in mental health is long. Whether you’re working the front desk at a medical office or writing prescriptions, you’re going to be ushering change into people’s lives. Here are some of the most impactful (and in-demand) psychology careers:
- Social Worker– A Social Worker helps people who are struggling with certain aspects of their lives. Whether someone’s dealing with abuse, anger, feelings of inferiority, or any other array of difficulties, as a Social Worker, you can equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to cope.
- Substance Abuse Counselor– If you have a specific desire to help those battling addiction, then you might want to choose a specific niche like substance abuse counseling. This is a hard road for many, but recovery is possible and you can help them start the process.
- Psychologist– Psychologists, like Social Workers, help people learn how to cope with personal difficulties and mental health problems. This sounds a lot like a Social Worker, doesn’t it? The main difference is that Social workers provide solutions for social, economic, behavioral difficulties while Psychologists help patients identify underlying mental health issues and tackle them accordingly.
- Marriage Counselor– Instead of substance abuse, you may have a strong desire to help families who are going through a difficult time. If so, you might want to consider a career as a Marriage and Family Counselor. Here, you’ll help restore the bonds of the family unit to others’ lives.
- Psychiatrist– A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.). Once you graduate med school, you’ll be eligible to diagnose, treat, and help prevent mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders in your patients.
- Psychiatric Nurse– Of course, you might also consider the rewarding career of helping a Psychiatrist in their endeavors. A Psychiatric Nurse begins the process by interviewing patients, learning their histories, and going on to help treatment teams develop successful patient plans.
Varying Educational Requirements
This is a question that doesn’t have a straight answer. For certain entry-level careers, a certificate may be enough. For others, nothing less than a doctorate will do.
If you have your sights set on Psychiatry, then you can begin as a Psychiatric Technician with only a postsecondary certificate. Mental Health Technicians are required to have an Associate’s degree or a certificate to start working. Here, job security and career growth are among two of the benefits from InterCoast Colleges.
An Addiction Counselor can start pulling people out of the doldrums of addiction with a Bachelor’s degree. Mental Health Social Workers require the same.
Often, Counselors, Therapists, and Psychologists are confused. However, the three are distinct. “Counselor” is often an umbrella term; Therapists can include different kinds of Psychologists; Psychologists often require Master’s degrees and a state license.
A Mental Health Counselor has to hit the books until they’ve earned a Master’s degree to start changing lives. The same holds true for Licensed Social Workers; only a Master’s will do. Clinical Psychologists, on the other hand, need Doctorates, as do Neuropsychologists.
Finally, if you want to go all the way, a Mental Health Psychiatrist will require a medical degree. You’ll be diagnosing major disorders and prescribing an array of medications, so you’ll be glad you invested in your education here.
Mental Health Careers for You
And there you have it. Which one of these mental health careers sounds like you? Will you help people battling addiction? Will you gently smooth the lines of a disrupted family unit? No matter your desire, you’ll be changing the course of people’s lives in a tremendous way.
As you advance through your coursework, we hope you’ll keep coming back to check out our blog for more insights. We thank you in advance for all the lives you’re about to change and wish you tremendous success, from start to finish.