It’s only been in the last couple of years that we’ve really started to understand the importance of mental health. In the past, people didn’t really know that much about mental health issues and that means they didn’t understand how important it is to talk about issues and seek help from a professional if necessary.
Increased awareness means that more people are getting the help that they need, and that’s great. However, that does raise another issue. There is a big lack of resources out there because there isn’t enough funding and there aren’t enough properly trained mental health professionals out there.
If you’re looking for a new career and helping others is a priority for you, working in mental health is a good option. You can make a real difference to people’s lives and there is a lot of demand for people working in the field. If you want to start a career as a mental health professional, here’s everything that you need to know.
You’re going to need specific training if you want to work in mental health so you’ll probably have to go back into education. There are a lot of different qualifications that you can do and it all depends on the types of job that you want to get. A Master’s in applied behavior analysis is one of the more general qualifications which is ideal for people that aren’t entirely sure which area of mental health that they want to work in.
Regis College has a good article on some of the potential career paths that you could follow with that qualification. If you do have a more solid idea of what you want to do, you should try to get in touch with different organizations and ask about what qualifications you need. A good way to go about this is to review a number of job openings in various companies and then look at what they require. This will give you a hint of what is generally required in the industry.
Get Some Experience
Before you start applying for jobs or even looking into education, you should try to get some experience through volunteering or internships. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be working in a mental health organization, it just means finding some experience working with others and helping them, particularly people in vulnerable positions.
Things like volunteering in a care home, or working with kids are both great ways to get some experience helping others. You may also be able to find some internships or work placements in hospitals and mental health facilities.
When you do start education, you should try to be networking as much as possible. That means building a close relationship with the teaching staff and trying to attend events like conferences on mental health research, for example. Networking will help you in two ways; firstly it will help you to find job opportunities once you’re qualified but it’s also good for people that aren’t sure exactly what kind of work they want to do. Learning more about mental health professionals and meeting people in different roles will help you to work out what you want to do.
Working in mental health is such a rewarding job but you should be aware that it’s also very demanding and emotionally draining, so think about whether you’re prepared for that before you get started.
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