The field of mental health is vast and growing every day. Options range from informal counselors to professional psychiatrists, with dozens of positions in each. When you start researching which career is the best for you, keep your mind open, sometimes the most satisfying or appropriate decisions are not the easiest, but it is well worth the effort.
Method 1 of 3: Consider All Mental Health Careers
Step 1. Consider professional and non-professional careers
Careers require formal educational programs and residencies or apprenticeships, while non-career options may have short-term training programs or certificate sessions.
- Professional degrees, such as counselors, nurses, doctors, and psychiatrists, require considerable educational commitments before starting work.
- Non-professional careers offer you similar exposure and job satisfaction without the need for the same education or training commitments. These options include peer counseling, personal advisers, administrators, medical assistants, hotline workers, mental health technicians, support group monitoring, and pharmaceutical research.
Step 2. Find out about jobs in the medical field
If you have the time and the will to pursue a career in the medical environment, read about your options before selecting a career.
Even in the medical field, the amount of exposure you will have with people suffering from mental illness varies considerably, and you must be prepared for that lifestyle and commitment that each career requires
Step 3. Consider becoming a medical doctor or psychiatrist
Both are graduate education majors that require training after the program ends. In addition, salaries can be excellent, the work environment you have can vary considerably depending on the environment in which you work.
- Physicians can find work providing emergency mental health care to people admitted to a hospital or providing medical supervision of patients in rehabilitation or in psychiatric institutions. They can also work by giving medication regimens to individuals with mental needs.
- Psychiatrists can offer professional treatments to individuals suffering from mental illness, addiction, or mental imbalances. They can offer therapies and prescribe medications that help resolve or eliminate the symptoms of a particular disorder. In addition, psychiatrists can find employment in private psychiatric institutions
Step 4. Find medical programs and nursing assistant programs
Being a nurse or medical assistant can be a quicker and less expensive way to enter the mental health or medical field. Although medical assistant programs are long and more competitive, they are considerably faster than being a doctor or psychiatrist.
- Assistants in the medical field spend most of their time interacting with patients. By finding work in a psychiatric hospital / psychiatric unit, or by working in a mental health office, assistants can regularly care for individuals with mental needs.
- Assistants' tasks often include taking anthopometric and hematological measurements, conducting questionnaires, explaining to patients what to expect during the visit, updating medical records, and directly assisting doctors during procedures and emergencies.
- Advanced degrees, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, can see patients individually and can prescribe medications.
Step 5. Find out about jobs in social work and counseling
If the medical field doesn't interest you, there are many mental health career options outside of hospitals and clinics.
- Social workers, career counselors, counselors, counseling psychologists, addiction counselors, charity organizers, and counselors can offer invaluable services to clients with mental health needs.
- Social workers and counselors are usually licensed professionals with a master's level who specialize in offering talk therapy or other types of psychotherapies. Social workers and counselors may also have a doctorate. In their field, making them experts in specific areas of mental health therapy.
- Counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists are doctoral, licensed psychologists with advanced degrees and research experience in psychology. They also offer talk therapy and psychotherapy to help their patients.
Step 6. Consider a formal bachelor's program
Social work, family counseling, and mental health therapies may require a bachelor's degree and a formal education program in some areas.
- Many education programs can be completed in less time than regular bachelor's degrees, but some (such as social work or counseling) can be completed at the doctoral and master's level.
- Check with state requirements before starting a business as a counselor, tutor, or therapist to make sure it's not illegal.
Step 7. Get experience volunteering
Although you cannot volunteer as a doctor you can get an idea of what your career involves, you can volunteer in social works or a community mental health centers to learn about other careers.
- For volunteer opportunities, call a homeless shelter, rehab centers, counseling and social work offices, the office for veterans services, and even a public school.
- Ask if they need an assistant in counseling, taking phone calls, monitoring direction, or helping in support group sessions. You can find many places that will be happy to receive help and can offer you experience immediately.
Step 8. Learn about emergency mental health careers
If you have the stomach and the courage to handle situations that require a lot of energy and stress, then emergency services or crisis counseling may be for you.
Look for programs and positions as an emergency medical technician, or on telephone counseling lines,
Step 9. Seek personal growth advice
The therapy process can be very mysterious if it has never been experienced. Actually receiving counseling is a great way to experience psychotherapy first-hand and better understand what you might be doing for a career. Even if you feel like there is nothing "wrong" in your life, counseling can enrich your life and help you find clarity - you might even find out which mental health career is right for you!
Step 10. Get mental health first aid training
These are offered in short sessions. The training will teach you the basics so that you can identify a mental crisis.
If the nature of the job appeals to you, consider seeking out emergency technician education programs and use that training to apply and work in a mental health center, hospital, crisis hotlines, or emergency response teams
Step 11. Try a crisis center
Many mental health call centers and community centers are run by volunteers, but these types of centers need trusted employees to converse with crisis patients until emergency teams appear on the scene.
If you decide to try crisis counseling, keep in mind that the calls can involve anything from teenagers trying to hurt themselves, violent addicts, to the elderly with suicidal thoughts. Many of your interactions with individuals will be stressful, in high-pressure situations that can include graphic language and awkward discussions
Step 12. Find out about physical manipulation and control jobs
In many cases, organizations that work with mental illness take many safety precautions. If you have the physical strength and desire to work in security, you may find work protecting staff and patients through control training and submission techniques.
Especially schools, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric units and community centers need staff who are capable of handling physical outbursts of clients with mental illness. Situations like these can be risky, violent, and intimidating, and they're not right for everyone
Step 13. Learn about mental health advocacy and awareness careers
If you would like to work in the mental health field but are unsure about working with patients or in rehab centers, try taking a job in the world of advocacy and awareness.
Many charitable organizations and non-profit groups exist for the sole purpose of delivering positive messages about mental health. These kinds of groups focus on helping those who need care without fear of being labeled, and demystifying mental illness
Step 14. Search social media groups
Organizations like “To Write Love on Her Arms” and “Bring Change 2 Mind” are very active groups online and in different cities in North America.
Social media organizations are constantly in need of writers, photographers, web designers, advertisers, graphic designers, fundraising staff, and event planners
Step 15. Work with groups that travel to raise awareness among others
Many international mental health groups offer speaking tours, concerts, campaigns, radio commercials, and events to raise awareness around the world.
Look for jobs to coordinate events, network with hospitals or other nonprofits, organize school activities (like free counseling or invite a celebrity to speak), promote relevant books and movies, or promote events
Method 2 of 3: Weight Your Options
Step 1. Narrow your list
Once you've written down all of your career options in the mental health field and considered the options available to you, start narrowing down the list. Take into consideration the positives and negatives of each option and analyze carefully. You can start narrowing down the list so that you can make a final decision.
Consider the positives and negatives of each option and weigh your decision carefully. Listen to what your heart tells you at this point, because in the end you will know better what will make you happiest
Step 2. Learn more about your already narrowed options
Once you have a short list of options, spend some time thinking about which option is right for you.
- If possible, find someone who already does this type of work, observe the person to know what it feels like to study that career.
- If that's not possible, spend more time online looking for job information.
- Take note of the activities that you will have to do (the good, the bad and the ugly) the salary that can be paid initially and in the long term, the environment in which you will work, if it is a career in high demand, what your schedule would be like, and other important aspects.
Step 3. Make a list of advantages and disadvantages
Write what you consider positive and negative of each option. Once you have a list of pros and cons, look for the options that have the most pros or the most important pros relative to cons.
Then, you can exclude the options that don't interest you based on your research and your preferences
Step 4. Compare the list with the most important aspects
Go through the options that still remain on your list and examine each one, you should base yourself on what is important to you.
For example, if you really want a job that involves interacting with patients, you can exclude options like hospital management
Step 5. Narrow the list and rank your options
Once you have eliminated the options that do not interest you or that do not offer you what you consider essential, try to classify the remaining options.
Pay attention to your heart by thinking about what would make you happy and what won't make you so happy to have a career in each of your options
Method 3 of 3: Selecting the Right Mental Health Career for You
Step 1. Keep your options open
Even if you've never thought of yourself as a social worker or a doctor, don't let that stop you from keeping that option open if it's hit your shortlist and you can imagine yourself enjoying the job.
If you have the will power, virtually any career option can be available to you
Step 2. Choose the career that excites you the most
Part of selecting the right mental health career involves knowing yourself and what you want out of your career. If you're not excited about your career potential, focus on the opportunities that you think will make you feel fulfilled. It would be terrible if you redirected your career, most likely you will pay a lot of money for education, only to find that your new job bores you.
Try to make sure you have a passion for the career you choose. You can be more confident that you are passionate about your future job by being an apprentice to someone currently doing that job or by doing your best to vividly imagine all the aspects of the work you would do throughout the week
Step 3. Select a career that offers you opportunities for advancement
To stay in the mental health field, you must select an option that gives you the opportunity to grow, progress, and be successful as your skills and interests change. Most likely, you will be happier that way.
Step 4. Remember to be flexible
If your first choice becomes impossible due to denied admissions or a lack of financial resources, remember that there are many options related to mental health.
- Consider gaining experience so that you can open doors for educational programs or for potential jobs in the field. Look for unpaid opportunities to gain experience in the mental health field by volunteering at a hospital or crisis center.
- Try to gradually build a base of experience in the mental health field and visit a career counselor to help you build your resume and attract mental health organizations.
- Your experience may reflect skills relevant to potential jobs; describe your experience as a university resident assistant including youth counseling and behavior monitoring, how long you worked as a bartender, and how this helped you develop skills in interacting with people, as well as listening to others.
Step 5. Consider alterations in your current position
If you are currently in a related field, consider seeking a lateral job move to a position more closely related to mental health.