Working in mental health is one of the most rewarding and challenging avenues for healthcare professionals. With each passing year, we become more and more aware of how vital proper mental health care is, and how much work there is still left to do. With one in four people annually cited as suffering from a mental health illness, it is a sector that will always need conscientious and dedicated professionals. Just like any other area of health care, it is one that requires a great deal of hard work, education and the right blend of personal characteristics. Here are some important things to know if you think it might be right for you.
There are Many Different Avenues to Pursue
Working in mental health isn’t confined to one simple role. A counsellor can help someone talk through grief, depression or addiction issues. A psychiatrist can diagnose more severe emotional or behavioral issues and can prescribe medication to help treat their patients. A psychiatric nurse practitioner will be qualified to diagnose patients, prescribe a treatment plan and help to educate friends and family. There is also social work, where a mental health worker will be helping to support people suffering from these issues with their day to day lives or helping to run the organizations that provide these services. With so many different fields and forms, including art and music therapy and occupational therapy, it’s important to consider which might be right for you.
Education is Key
People come to work in mental health for many different reasons. You might have a long-standing interest in the field, or you might have been prompted to pursue it by a recent event in your life or that of someone close to you. However, as you would expect, this is not a field where you can simply walk in and start treating a patient. Each area requires its own training and education. A psychiatric nurse practitioner, for example, will need to have a master’s in nursing with specialized study in mental health. There is a real need for more people to help give the support needed, and Wilkes University offers fantastic course programs to help you on your way to diagnosing and treating those who need your help.
It Requires a Certain Type of Person
When you work in mental health, you will be caring for people who are at a very vulnerable and potentially unstable point in their lives. They also may not realize just how vulnerable they are. The person specifications for this area go beyond professional qualifications, they also include empathy and caring, the ability to listen and communicate, and being able to convey trustworthiness and confidence to the patient. You must be able to establish strong emotional boundaries between yourself and the person in your care as they may disclose upsetting or distressing personal information, and have the strength to be there for them during challenging times. It will be vital that the patients in your care trust you completely, but it will be just as important that you can separate yourself from the experience at the end of the day.