The rewards of choosing a career in mental health
Working in the mental health field offers many rewards. A lot of these go beyond the pay and working conditions. People who choose mental health as a career often do so in order to help others, but you may not realize exactly how much of a positive effect you can have on those you work with.
Improving people’s lives
Choosing to work in mental health offers you several career paths, including counseling. You can achieve a qualification in clinical mental health counseling from Walsh University. This course will prepare you for working as a counselor by helping you develop a philosophy for counseling, learn how to diagnose mental and emotional disorders, and analyze and address your client’s problems while offering support.
What you learn will make a real difference in helping to improve people’s lives. Some of the clients you encounter may have long-term problems and feel like nobody can help them. As a qualified counselor, it will be your job to find ways to reach and connect with them, using your knowledge and expert intuition for clients you work with.
Although you may not see the difference immediately, after weeks or even months, you will notice a positive change in your client’s emotions, behavior, and their life in general.
If you want a career that differs from day to day, then working in mental health could suit you. Each client will have a different combination of problems, diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health conditions and their own set of coping strategies. Some of the methods they use to cope may be helping them, while others may be making the condition worse. It will be your job to encourage them to open up during your sessions. You’ll need to get to know your patient so that you can provide a diagnosis and determine the best way to help them. Part of the role is to encourage the patient to work with you to help themselves so that they will no longer need as much support.
Whether your clients improve during therapy or sometimes take a step backwards, the career can be rewarding or challenging, and sometimes even both at the same time. This is one way in which your workday is often different and unpredictable. It may not be for everyone, particularly those who prefer a more structured workday. However, if you enjoy unpredictability and a mixed workload, being a counselor could suit you.
Facing challenges is another part of the role that may not appeal to everyone. Many people working in mental health are used to confronting and overcoming challenges regularly, but finding the solution and seeing the results, however long this takes, is the real challenge. If helping clients improve their lives was easy, it wouldn’t be so rewarding to see them overcome obstacles.
Learning, progression, and application
There are lots of learning opportunities in mental health, including in counseling, which can benefit you not just in progressing your career but also in helping in your personal life.
For example, one of the first things you learn to do as a mental health professional is learn how to actively listen to clients in order to help them. Applying active listening in your personal life will ensure you pay closer attention to the people around you, and you might be able to spot signs of problems before they become more serious.
Creating a better community
A career in mental health can also lead to promotion opportunities if this is something you are interested in. Alternatively, it gives you a choice of different roles to pursue. These include counselor, psychotherapist, social worker or family support worker, among many others.
You can also help to improve local communities. For example, some clients you work with may be homeless or addicted to alcohol or other substances, which can have a negative effect on the community where they live.
By working with people who have found themselves without a home or living under unstable conditions, you can get to the root of their mental health issues and encourage them to become part of the local community, which then improves other people’s lives and the area they live in.
Some clients you work with will struggle to open up or even admit to having mental health problems. While progress has been made in recent years, there is still a lot of stigma attached to having a mental health condition. Part of your role would be to encourage them to talk openly and offer reassurance that how they feel is perfectly normal.
Part of removing the stigma will involve promoting equality, showing compassion and empathy, and sharing information that helps them see they are not the only ones experiencing these issues. Of course, your specific role when working in mental health will determine exactly how much you need to contribute towards reducing stigma. Some mental health careers are specifically focused on one-to-one sessions with clients, such as counseling. Other roles may include public speaking, sharing articles and papers you have written or speaking with the media and providing expert quotes.
A long-term career
Another reward is having a long-term career for as long as you want to work in mental health. As the number of people experiencing poor mental health continues to increase, there is also a growing need for trained professionals to help patients understand and accept their diagnosis, the possible changes to their life and how to improve their overall quality of life. This will reduce the chances of poor mental health preventing them from achieving their goals and pursuing what they want in life.
Mental health offers a choice of career paths, and while you need to have certain qualities to succeed in this line of work, it’s a rewarding career to pursue. If you are patient, good at listening, have empathy and can communicate with people from all walks of life, you could have a long-term career. Even if the practice or medical institution where you work were to close or cut back on staff, there will be options and other roles you can apply for. Your skills and qualifications will continue to be in demand.
If you want a rewarding career, it’s worth enquiring about the qualifications that can prepare you for working in mental health.