What Is a Mental Health Professional and How to Become One
A mental health professional offers mental health support and treatment for patients. In this career, your duties vary significantly depending on what specialty you choose. You might provide counseling services as a therapist or clinical social worker. Psychologists and psychiatrists are also mental health professionals. Psychologists offer mental health therapy while psychiatrists can do so and also prescribe medication. You can also pursue a career in mental health by becoming a psychiatric nurse. Regardless of your specialty, your responsibilities focus on working to diagnose and treat a patient with a mental illness or disorder.
The qualifications for becoming a mental health professional vary by specialty. All mental health professionals need a license or certification to practice. The minimum requirement for most counseling professions is a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. You may need a master’s degree in social work or psychology to work in many states, and you can choose to pursue a doctorate if you want to work in a clinical setting as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Mental health nurse practitioners first become registered nurses before learning the skills and gaining the necessary education for psychiatric care, including either a master’s degree or doctorate. You may operate as a mental health technician, assisting other mental health professionals, after earning an associate degree and professional certification.
Are Mental Health Professional Jobs in Demand?
Mental health counseling professionals are in high demand, and steady job growth is expected to continue in the future. Projections for future demand for counseling professionals suggest that job opportunities will increase by 29 percent, which is much higher than the expected increase across all professions. This increase in demand could be due to greater awareness of mental health issues and illnesses. Insurance coverage for mental health services has also improved, so more people are now able to afford to consult a mental health professional.