According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions affect around 450 million people in the world, placing mental health disorders as one the leading causes of ill-health and disability. This means one in four people are dealing with mental neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
While this is a sobering fact, the more pressing issue is that people who need help for their condition don’t always receive assistance.
This is where you can make a difference.
If you wish to become a shining light for someone battling with mental illnesses, pursuing a career in mental health is the best route to take. Once you’ve taken the necessary degrees and psychology seminars, you can assist patients by pursuing one of the careers listed below.
Clinical psychiatrists diagnose, treat and help prevent emotional and mental disorders. Their medical background enables them to understand the connection between emotional illness and physiological problems. Although psychologists and psychiatrists both provide counseling and therapy, the latter can prescribe medication and monitor its effects on the patient.
To become a psychiatrist, you are required to complete an undergraduate degree before entering medical school. Once you’ve earned your medical degree and completed residency training in mental health, you can receive your certification and license.
Psychiatric nurses play an important role in caring for patients who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder or severe mental trauma. Patients who suffer from serious conditions such as schizophrenia or psychosis depend on their nurses for behavioral therapy and support (under the guidance of a licensed psychiatrist).
Psychiatric nurses also help the patient’s family to cope with the challenges of mental illness. They offer guidance and support for the family members, teaching them how to interact with the patient, especially whenever they have ‘episodes.’
Counseling or Clinical Psychologist
A clinical psychologist (also known as a counseling psychologist) evaluates mental and emotional health and helps patients cope with the stress of their condition. These psychologists often work in a hospital or serve in criminal justice settings instead of private practices. Similar to psychiatrists, clinical psychologists assess, diagnose and treat emotional problems and mental disorders. They are not, however, considered as medical doctors, which mean they cannot prescribe medication.
There are numerous subspecialties in the field of psychology, including geriatrics, pediatric mental health, substance abuse and learning disabilities.
If you wish to pursue a career in clinical or counseling psychology, you’ll need to obtain a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse is a common issue for people from all walks of life. Fortunately, this condition is treatable. A substance abuse counselor guides victims of alcohol or drug abuse in overcoming their addictions through behavioral and medical therapy programs.
Certified substance abuse counselors work in different environments, such as community health centers, government organizations and hospitals. Some positions require an associate’s degree. If you wish to earn more as a substance abuse counselor, strive to achieve a master’s degree in psychology and a certification in substance abuse counsel ling.
Disability Services Officer
A disability services officer is responsible for caring and supporting people with disabilities who reside in adult service units or government institutions. As a disability services officer, your job is to empower patients with disabilities, encouraging them to engage with others and enjoy the highest level of freedom their situation allows.
Marriage and Family Counselor
A family and marriage counselor helps families and couples cope with the daily challenges of interpersonal relationships. Counselors guide dysfunctional households in restoring harmony in their relationships. They do this by revealing the causes of the conflict, the roles of an individual, the needs of each family member and the family’s response as a whole.
Family and/or marriage counselors are required to attain a master’s degree and clinical experience before receiving certification. You can also develop the insight needed for this career through years of education and experience.
The Role You Fill Matters
Despite the growing need for mental health support, there are not enough professionals to go around. In 2019, the number of approved mental health professionals (AMHPs) in England dropped by four per cent, which emphasizes the need for more practitioners.
Volunteers can step up to fill the gap between the professionals and the patients. They are also important during a crisis. For example, volunteers of a suicide hotline can answer the call of someone who is about to take their life.
Still, professionals are needed. From social workers to counselors, there is plenty of space in the healthcare system for those who wish to help patients with mental illnesses.