Is A Career In Mental Health Right For Me?
Anyone that is empathetic and wants to make a difference in the world should consider a career in mental health. Mental health issues are prevalent all around the world right now, and it has become a major problem in recent times that can affect people in many different ways. Mental health workers are, therefore, in high demand, and this can be a great way to improve and even save lives and help those that are vulnerable. It is also not the easiest area to work in, so keep reading to learn more about what a career in mental health is like and whether or not it is right for you.
It Is Incredibly Rewarding
The main benefit of a career in mental health is that it is incredibly rewarding. This is because you are able to help people to overcome the serious issues in their life that are holding them back, so you can get a high level of satisfaction when you are able to help your patients that are suffering from anxiety, stress, and depression. Having a career that is so rewarding is important for your own mental health and should give you a sense of purpose that improves your life in many different ways.
You Can Improve & Save Lives
Leading on from this, you will also find that a career in mental health allows you to improve and save lives. Those with mental health problems suffer in many ways, and their problems often stop them from leading the life that they want, which can lead to serious consequences. As a mental health professional, you will work closely with these people and help them to overcome these challenges and lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives. This makes it noble and important work, and it is an amazing feeling when you are able to help a patient to improve their life.
The Work Is In Demand
Mental health issues are prevalent all over the globe right now, and it is predicted that this will only get worse in the coming years and with younger generations. There are many reasons why this might be, but it means that mental health professionals will be heavily in demand for the foreseeable future. While it is troubling that so many people are struggling with their mental health all around the world, it does mean that it should not be too hard to find work, and you can benefit from job security. In addition to this, you can also work anywhere and often remotely. This can give you greater choice and freedom with your career, whether you want to stay put or move around.
It Can Be Upsetting & Distressing
Working in mental health is hugely rewarding and the work can give you a high level of job satisfaction, but you must also be prepared that it will be upsetting and distressing at times. This is because you will be working with people who are suffering from very serious mental health problems, and, as someone that is empathic, it can be hard to see these people struggling so much. Unfortunately, you will not be able to help everyone, and progress is not always linear, so there will be difficult periods and dark days in a career in mental health. Although this is tough, it makes the breakthroughs and improvements even greater and is all part of the job.
It Is Stressful
Following this, you will also need to be prepared that this work is stressful. If you are looking for a career that allows you to put your feet up and relax, this is not a career path for you, as you need to be able to give 100% each and every day. The fact that the work is so important and demanding means that it is stressful, so you need to be prepared for this and find ways to manage your stress. It can be hard at first and everyone struggles, but over time, you will learn how to manage your stress and avoid taking work home with you at the end of the day. Additionally, you need to be well-organized so that you can juggle multiple patients in a single day and provide the highest level of care to each one.
You Need Strong People Skills
Obviously, you need to have strong people skills in order to succeed with a career in mental health. A good mental health professional is one that people feel safe around, so you need to be able to make a good first impression and develop relationships over time. This can be challenging, especially because you need to maintain professionalism and avoid making personal relationships, but again this is something that people tend to master over time. The key attributes of a mental health professional include:
- A good listener
In addition to this, you must also be able to read people. Often, it is what people are not saying and what they are communicating with their body language that is the most revealing. Therefore, a good mental health professional will know how to read body language and pick up on the non-verbal clues that people are offering.
You Need To Be Able To Reserve Judgment
When you work in mental health, you need to be able to reserve judgment and see each patient as someone that needs your support. It is likely that you will be working with people that you do not see eye to eye with and may have done bad things in their past, but you need to be able to reserve judgment and do what you can to help them. Additionally, you are also likely to encounter people that you like and enjoy spending time with. While being friendly is helpful, you must maintain a level of professionalism and avoid revealing too much about yourself – this is key for maintaining a productive relationship that is so key to any kind of progress with mental health treatments.
There Are Many Different Career Paths
Much like careers in physical health, there are all kinds of different career paths in mental health. This means that there are many roles to consider, each with different entry requirements, growth opportunities, and salaries. It also means that there are always ways to grow, improve, and change your career. You will want to spend some time researching a few of the different areas so that you can get an idea of what might be right for you. A few areas worth looking into include:
- CBT therapist
- Mental health counselor
- Child and adolescent psychotherapist
- Clinical psychologist
- Forensic psychologist
- Mental health and well-being practitioner
- Peer support worker
You Can Earn A Lot
Most people do not get into a career in mental health for the money, but there is certainly the opportunity to earn a lot, particularly as you start to advance your career. As an example, psychiatrists made a median salary of $208,000 in 2020. It can take a long time and require a lot of hard work to reach positions like this, but the earning potential is high, and this will be an important perk for many people.
You Can Take An Online Program
These days, many of the qualifications that are required to work in mental health can be earned online. You can take an online counseling degree that will develop the essential professional skills and knowledge that are required for a career in mental health. This usually involves both coursework and in-field practice, which will sharpen your skills and allow you to help people of all ages and backgrounds experiencing various mental health problems. Obviously, the study is a huge part of mental health, and a qualification from a reputable school will lay the foundation for professional success and help you to find rewarding work, whether this is in a hospital, health center, or private practice. Additionally, online programs can also be flexible and fit into your lifestyle, which can make these courses easier to complete and allows you to study while you work and juggle other important responsibilities.
You Can Be Your Own Bos
There are many options when it comes to where you can work and who you work for with a career in mental health. Many mental health professionals have aspirations of starting their own businesses and being their own bosses. Seeing patients privately allows you to take complete control of your career, which obviously brings many benefits to your life. Many even see their patients in their own homes, which can help to keep costs down and adds convenience to your life. Being your own boss can make a stressful role less stressful and easier to manage, but keep in mind that you will also have to keep on top of the running of the business. This means that you will have other responsibilities, such as appointment planning, accounting, and attracting new clients.
You Need To Be Able To Keep Work & Home Separate
One of the biggest challenges that mental health workers face is keeping work and home separate. When you are trying to help people that are angry, depressed, or even suicidal, it is not as easy as coming home and putting your feet up. It is inevitable that you will spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about your patients when you are off the clock, but you need to find ways to keep your work and home separate so that you can make the most of your free time and enjoy your life. Everyone is different, but there are a few effective ways to keep the two separate, such as planning a fun activity or exercise directly after work, avoiding talking about work, and spending time with loved ones. This will also involve preventing your personal life from interfering with your work, which is why you need to avoid divulging too much information about yourself to your patients.
You Must Look After Your Own Mental Health
Leading on from this, mental health professionals must also know how to look after their own mental health. Due to the nature of the work, it is very easy for mental health professionals to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress. Therefore, you need to be aware of your own mental health and find ways to look after yourself. Obviously, as your area of expertise, you should know how to do this, but it can be harder to spot mental health problems in yourself. A few basics for looking after your own mental health include:
- Taking time off
- Socializing with loved ones
- Regular exercise
- Getting enough sleep
- A healthy diet
Many mental health professionals also find it helpful to seek their own mental health support. Speaking to another mental health professional is smart even if you do not feel that you are struggling, especially because you should not disclose too much information about your patients to people in your personal life.
Patience Is Key
If you work in mental health, it is important that you are someone that is patient. People do not suddenly get better overnight, and you will often be working with people for years without much progress. Additionally, you also need to allow people to make their own discoveries, and this can be hard when it is clear to you but not to them. It can be tough, especially when someone is struggling, but patience is key and makes the reward that much greater when someone has a breakthrough.
This post should give you an idea of whether or not a career in mental health is right for you. Mental health careers are hugely rewarding, and there are many perks to jobs in this field, but it is also working that can be upsetting and not well-suited to everyone. Hopefully, this post will help you to make the right choice and take the first steps towards a rewarding career that allows you to save and improve lives each day.
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