As anxiety and depression rates rise, the need for mental health care professionals grows. One in four adults suffers from mental illness every year, yet it can be difficult for people to get help. If you’ve contemplated a career in mental health care, now could be the perfect time to explore opportunities. This article will discuss the different positions available to you under the broad umbrella of mental health care professionals and ten tips to help you get started.
Mental Health Care Career Options
There are many different career options available to those interested in working in mental health care.
Mental Health Social Worker: Helps individuals with mental health problems that affect their everyday lives. They provide support and education on how patients can manage their mental health issues.
Social & Community Service Manager: Run non-profit organizations that provide mental health services to the general public.
Mental Health Counselor: Meet with those who struggle with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and grief. They can diagnose mental health disorders and work with individuals, families, or groups.
Addiction Counselor: Mental health counselor who meets with and treats someone battling a substance use disorder. They come up with a treatment plan to help them during their recovery.
Mental Health Psychiatrist: specialize in diagnosing mental health problems and can prescribe medication as a treatment, unlike mental health counselors and psychologists.
You can get schooling or training in several types of psychology, but most of them fall under the following categories.
Clinical Psychology: Focuses on providing mental health care to individuals or families, usually for more severe mental health needs and behavioral disorders.
Industrial/Organizational: Focuses on understanding the behavior of employees in a work environment and how a given employee affects employees and their behavior.
Cognitive: Focuses on mental factors like memory, attention span, and reasoning, while delving into how the brain processes information.
Developmental: Focuses on how the brain develops as a child grows; psychologists who work in this field usually treat developmental, behavioral, and learning disorders.
Forensic: Focuses work in the criminal justice system to help police and lawmakers understand why behaviors occur and how a criminal mind works.
Social: Focuses on how people think and act in relationships with others.
Behavioral: Focuses on examining people’s behavior and helps them change that behavior if it is not serving them/harming them.
Abnormal: Focuses on and treats people who struggle with psychopathic or other abnormal behaviors.
Neuropsychology: Focuses on treating people with nervous system disorders.
Psychiatric–Mental Health Nurse: Typically, registered nurses work with psychiatric patients and provide treatment when necessary.
Substance Abuse Nurse: Care for patients struggling with substance use disorder. They provide both emotional and medical assistance.
10 Tips for Getting Started in a Mental Health Career
Get the proper education: For some mental health careers, you need your associate’s or bachelor’s degree, but for others, you need your master’s or doctoral degree. Do your research to see what is required to practice in the particular field that interests you.
Gain volunteer experience: While you’re in school, getting some volunteer experience is a great idea. This experience will teach you what your work environment could be like and the types of people you could be working with and helping. It’s best to have a realistic understanding of what you’re signing up for before making a career out of it.
Complete an internship or residency: In most cases, to get your degree or license to practice a mental health profession, you’ll need to complete an internship or residency to gain hands-on experience. The good news is it gives you a real glimpse into the world you could be working in upon graduation.
Reach out to professionals in the field: It’s always a good idea to reach out to other professionals in the field so you can pick their brains and hear about the highs and lows of the profession.
Get licensed: Depending on what mental health professionals you go into, you may have to study and take a test to get your license. Stats can vary, so do your research to ensure you understand the steps you must take before practicing.
Get the job: While doing an internship or residency, look for job opportunities in a related field. Don’t limit yourself to just one position available; it’s a good idea to apply to a few jobs at once to better your odds of finding what you’re looking for in a career.
Make good connections: Like most careers, having good contacts in the community can help a lot. Collaborate with other local professionals to see if they can help market your services to people they know who are in need.
Keep learning: Never stop learning when it comes to mental health. There is always new research, and it’s essential to stay up to date on best practices and tools used to help patients and clients.
Practice self-care: A big problem many are seeing in the world after Covid is how burnt out mental health care workers are; be sure to prioritize your wellness and well-being because you can only show up to others when you take the time to show up for yourself.
Invest in mental health care yourself: Because mental health care workers give so much of themselves to their patients and clients, they must invest in their wellness too. Seek out a mental health care professional of your own to work with, so you can ensure you’re living a healthy lifestyle.
At Advanced Behavioral Health, we want to ensure that you have a safe place to turn to if and when you need someone to talk to about mental health issues. In addition, if speaking with one of our experts can help you explore a career in mental health care, we would love to be of service. Depending on the time you reach out to us, we also may have job opportunities available for you to apply to once you’re ready. Visit us here or call us at 301-345-1022. We’re happy to assist and support you!