Mental health has been an issue for centuries, but historically, it has not been understood or treated properly. Even less than a century ago, there were what, by today’s standards, would be considered barbaric and cruel treatments for those struggling with mental illness. Many patients were shunned by society and frequently mistreated by their peers and even healthcare professionals. Although the world has come a long way since then and stigmas around mental health are being challenged, there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure that those struggling with these issues get the help that they need.
Mental health can be very complex; everyone has different experiences, or perhaps fails to recognize they have problems at all. It can vary from problems with depression and anxiety to conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, and much more. Everyone will have struggles with their mental health at some point in their lives, as even going through stressful periods can take a toll on your mental well-being. This is why it is so important that these services are easily accessible, but there is often a strain on mental health services due to such high demand.
If you are interested in mental health and would like to help others, perhaps you would be a good fit for working in this field? There are various roles to explore, some of which will be listed below, but also a few good reasons why it is important to work in this area.
What Kind of Career Can You Have in Mental Health?
When you do think of working in mental health, you might immediately think of roles such as psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, and so on. These are all very good options, but it isn’t limited to these clinical roles. Here are some other suggestions that you might want to consider.
Working for a Mental Health Charity
Numerous charities are dedicated to breaking the stigmas around mental health and providing support for those who might not have easy or quick access to these services locally. When you are working for a mental health charity, you may be taking calls on a crisis hotline, providing a safe place for those experiencing difficulty to talk, and offering them comfort and advice that will hopefully make them feel more at ease. You could also be helping to connect people to the right services that could help them get the treatments that they need, and even discuss some of these options with them.
Other jobs you might find yourself doing in mental health charities include raising awareness and teaching members of the public more about these issues. This could be through organizing a fundraising event or talking to students in schools or at community centers. You may even liaise with members of the government in the healthcare sector to discuss ways to improve mental health services in your town, state, or nationwide. These are just a few examples of what kind of work you might find within a mental health charity, whether that is through volunteering your time or finding employment within an organization.
If you are interested in taking on a more healthcare-based role, then you might be interested in becoming a psychiatric nurse, or a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. You will need to complete a nursing degree and pass your examination to become a registered nurse and then pursue at least a master’s degree to move forward in this field. As a nurse practitioner in this field, you can expect to prescribe medications to patients, diagnose illness, perform examinations, and come up with treatment plans for patients with substance abuse problems and other mental health issues. You could work in a hospital setting, private practice, correctional institutions, educational establishments, or with public health organizations.
Studies have shown that artistic pursuits such as painting, music, and other crafts can often help people with mental health conditions. It can provide a healthy outlet for their emotions and have a soothing effect. This is why it has become a popular recommendation that arts and crafts hobbies be used as part of a mindfulness routine. Being an art or music therapist or working in some other creative pursuit is perfect for those who already have these creative talents and interests, but would also like to support people with mental health struggles. You will likely need a degree in the relevant subject, for example, a music degree, to become a creative therapist. Then you can apply to take a master’s course in combining these creative pursuits with psychotherapy. To get accepted onto these courses, it usually helps to have some previous experience working with people who need mental health support, so you might want to consider volunteering with a local charity or mental health center to help you achieve this.
Peer Support Worker
If you have experienced difficulties with mental health yourself and you would like to use this to help others who might be struggling, working as a peer support worker could be ideal. You would be working one-on-one with these service users, helping them to develop personal goals to improve their mental well-being and lifestyles. You might also help to support group work sessions, encouraging people to engage in activities that could benefit their mental health, and take part in care planning.
Why Is This Work Important?
Although mental health can impact your physical health as well, often there are no physical symptoms of these issues. This can make it easier for those struggling with mental health to go unnoticed until these problems have developed or become severe. Others might not feel ready to admit they have a problem or as though they can be open about this due to stigmas attached to talking about mental health. Working to support those who are struggling and need the right care is important, as it can help them to move forward into a happier, healthier, and more stable life. These services could even help to save someone’s life who is feeling suicidal, or help to prevent them from harming themselves or others. It is an essential part of healthcare, and these services need more workers to help keep up with the demand.
Working in mental health can certainly be challenging, but there are many rewarding aspects of this kind of career, and you would be making a big difference in the lives of individuals and their loved ones.