Choosing a Career in Mental Health
Mental health has become a big topic of conversation amongst society today, the stigma behind it is slowly being tackled which means more people are vocalizing the struggles they are experiencing and highlighting just how big the problem actually is. The number of people willing to discuss suffering from mental health struggles seems to have, thankfully, grown dramatically. Individuals feeling comfortable about talking about their wellbeing is a huge win in the fight to normalize speaking openly about mental health needs. Suffering from poor mental health can be an invisible illness and is easily hidden if you choose not to share your issues with other people. It’s great that more people are seeking help when they are in need, but are there enough healthcare workers available to actually support these needs? Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit that is dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness. In 2017, they published an insightful article highlighting access to care statistics with some eye-opening data regarding workforce availability. Nationally, there was one mental health provider for every 529 individuals and over 4,000 areas across the U.S. were considered to be suffering from a severe mental health professional shortage. This data details the urgent demand for practitioners around the country, and highlights why choosing a career within this area of medical care would be both prosperous and fulfilling, as well as hugely needed. There are many avenues to consider when starting a career in mental health, and these shouldn’t be ruled out even if science wasn’t your strongest subject area in school. Yes, choosing a medical career would help ease the growing demand, but you could also look towards charitable foundations, fitness and support groups as well. You could also set your sights on changing government policies to support the needs of mental health patients in a more efficient and caring manner. Whichever avenue you choose, you’ll be making a difference to those in need and giving yourself a true sense of purpose in life. Mental Health Practitioner Professional mental health careers within the healthcare sector include psychiatry, psychology, social care and family therapy and usually begin with gaining a degree in this area of expertise. Attending university and furthering your education before you start your career is a great route to take if you’re in a position to study at your chosen college full-time. If you don’t have this luxury in life or are a mature student looking for a change in career, it might suit you better taking on an online psychology degree. You’ll have 100% flexibility to schedule your study around your work and family life, while gaining the tools you need to achieve a bachelor of science degree. You could also incorporate some work experience within this time, which will give you a broader learning experience and a competitive edge when it comes to finding your first job after graduating. Fitness Instructor Becoming a personal trainer dually focuses on the physical appearance of a person as well as improving their self esteem and confidence. You could choose to dedicate this line of work to those suffering with poor mental health, and help them to see their worth. It’s no secret that exercise boosts your mental wellbeing, and there is plenty of science and research that proves the correlation between the two. Suffering from mental illness can be extremely exhausting, and many sufferers can feel physically and emotionally drained with little energy to motivate themselves in the morning. Regular exercise provides individuals with more energy throughout the day and having a fitness instructor available to help, could be all they need to start the recovery process. Dopamine and serotonin levels within the brain are increased after exercising which are hormones both scientifically linked to boosting your mood, which really can go some way in helping those dealing with stress, depression and anxiety. Taking a personal training course could be a great alternative option if you want to help tackle the mental health crisis currently taking place. You’ll be able to watch your clients develop and grow which would, of course, be an extremely rewarding career. Charity Worker If you have great organizational skills and love hosting events, then becoming part of a mental health charity might be the perfect career choice for you. Raising awareness and increasing funding for those in need is an excellent way of supporting mental health recovery and working for a charity can be a wonderfully creative profession to have. You could choose to join one of the charities already established in the United States, or see whether it would be more beneficial to start a local charity amongst your own community where you live. Charities within the US include Mental Health America, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Child Mind Institute that dedicate their time to supporting and transforming lives. Without their presence and advocacy, the strain on medical services would be even greater so it is without a doubt a very worthwhile career path to choose. Unlike physical ailments, mental health issues are often struggles that will need to be maintained and supported for many years to come, and it takes a whole community to support individuals in need. When a patient has had the initial medical care they require, it is important that there are support groups available to help them in order to introduce healthy activities to their lives. Encouraging mindfulness and meditation, spending time with family and friends, or simply enjoying more time outdoors amongst nature, are great ways to keep on top of mental health. It’s often the case that these smaller support systems make the real difference when it comes to care, so consider all of your options before choosing a career. Take some time to volunteer and experience the different avenues you can choose. By doing this, you’ll no doubt discover what your strengths and weaknesses are, and find the right career path to take. It’s important for your own mental health that the work you do every day is something you truly love and garner great satisfaction from doing.