What Is a Mental Health Assistant and How to Become One
A mental health assistant works with psychiatric patients in hospitals, residential care facilities, and outpatient centers. Your job duties as a mental health assistant are to monitor patients’ behavior and progress, assist patients with basic care like bathing and eating, and update medical records. You may also take patients’ vital signs, provide therapeutic care, and engage patients in social and recreational activities. Occasionally, you may have to help restrain patients who become physically violent or out of control. Mental health assistants report to psychiatrists or other physicians and follow their instructions for patient care.
To start your career as a mental health assistant, you need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED certificate and experience working with mentally ill patients. Some employers require a bachelor’s degree in mental health technology, and you may need to obtain a license to work as a mental health assistant in some states. Professional certifications are also available from the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which may offer a competitive edge. Additional qualifications include strong interpersonal and communication skills and the patience and compassion to work with challenging patients.