How to Tell If a Career in Mental Health is Right for You
According to the UK mental health charity, Mind, one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
Fortunately, discussions surrounding mental health have started to take off in recent years and there is now reduced stigma towards therapy or treatment for mental health. As a result of this increased acceptance, more people are looking to pursue a career in the field.
There are various career paths you can follow as a mental health professional, whether it’s in national mental health policy and planning, or in an advisory or advocacy role for a government, international agency or non-governmental organization.
Whatever your motivation, a career in mental health can be very rewarding – albeit challenging at times. So, are you still wondering whether a career in mental health is for you? Read on to find out if you’re suited for this vital profession.
You understand the importance of what mental health is and what it means
It takes a particular set of skills and characteristics to work in mental health. It isn’t an easy job and you will need to have a genuine desire to care for those with emotional difficulties and behavioral or addiction problems. There will be times that are tough, and you will need to be resilient and prepared for whatever situation comes your way.
It’s important to keep an open mind and avoid being influenced by your personal ideologies. You need to look beyond the patient who is in front of you and take into account social, cultural and financial factors which may be affecting them. Only by doing this will you be able to help them.
You work well in a team
Working in the mental health field means you’ll be working in a multidisciplinary team made up of nurses, physicians, social workers and others on a daily basis. Being able to communicate effectively and liaise with your team is essential in order to maintain a high level of care for patients.
Being able to pay attention to even the smallest of details is an absolute necessity. Acute observational skills are key, as is being very well organized – all while maintaining patient confidentiality.
You’re compassionate and able to empathize
Your empathetic nature is paramount in this field. Being able to put yourself in your patient’s shoes is one way of understanding why they may be feeling the way they are and doing the things they’re doing.
Showing empathy and compassion demonstrates to the patient the level to which they can trust and open up to you. This level of open communication will prove vital in order to facilitate the patient’s recovery.
You’re able to reserve judgment
It’s inevitable that as a mental health professional, you will help and care for patients who, at times, may have made some morally wrong decisions, or cannot get back on track with things.
It’s at this point that you need to put your own judgment aside, and maintain your professional viewpoint. Being able to separate the stereotype from the person in front of you is essential.
You’re prepared to work hard
Most mental health professions will require you to have taken a formal education route, and the demand for mental health degree programs is on the rise.
Higher education institutions are developing graduate programs that are dedicated to training students and equipping them with skills necessary to undertake a career in mental health.