Mental health has steadily gained immense popularity. From being a social taboo, it is now one of the most widely talked about topics. It has also become an essential aspect of our daily lives, from our personal lives to our workspaces. There is a strong emphasis on taking care of your mental wellbeing. However, on the other end of the spectrum are mental health caregivers. These professionals play a crucial role in ensuring patients/clients have stable mental health and receive necessary treatment on time.
If you want to pursue a career in mental health, there are specific steps you need to take. After all, mental health and related conditions are tricky grounds to walk on. When you don’t have the knowledge or the skills to take care of the patients, you can mess up their situations. So, before you can kick start a fantastic career, here’s all that you need to know about your profession:
Plan your degree
The first thing you need to do is figure out if you want a BA in psychology or a BS in psychology. This decision will form the basis of your career. A BS will prepare you for clinical careers, whereas a BA will open other options such as law. So if you’re going to school for psychology, ensure you know what you want out of a degree. Do you want a degree that pushes you more on the research side or working with clients? After you decide that, you may want to weigh the merits of online or offline education and determine what enables you to achieve your goals faster.
Take other courses
You may want to take other courses besides psychology. Go into research and community health and maybe even look into child psychology. The more you allow yourself to get exposure, the better for your career. However, it’s not enough to get into these fields to ensure success. If you do well, you get excellent recommendation letters that work beautifully for you as you pursue a job. Your professors can also offer you helpful referral tips on where to work.
Be involved in psychology clubs
These clubs are essentially workshops. So the more you get involved with them, the greater your chances of learning. Don’t deny yourself the exposure by assuming that being a psychology major only means staying all day indoors and reading textbooks. The more you interact with different people in such workshops, the better it is for you to pick up skills to apply once you start working.
Do research work
Your psychology degree won’t amount to much unless you show how well you’re utilizing it. Psychology is one field that requires you to use concepts you have studied and apply them to actual mental health cases. Your research aims to record your findings and prove that counseling and treatment options are effective and the varying results each session produces.
What careers await you?
After you have a psychology degree in hand and hopefully have a research paper or plan to write one, you need to figure out what career you want to pursue. Psychology can help you pursue multidisciplinary careers. However, if you’re going to help people with mental health issues. Here are the jobs in store for you:
Clinical and Counseling Psychologist
As a clinical and counseling psychologist, you will diagnose and treat people with several mental health conditions, including behavioral, emotional, and mental disorders such as depression. Your job will be to ensure your patients can deal with their crises and tend to their injuries in the duration of their session with you. It is best if you intern in clinics and mental hospitals under the guidance of senior doctors before you start your solo practice.
Many families are going through severe problems. Since most of these issues stem from mental agitation, you need to intervene to help these couples. However, do not that this is a serious role and you require a significant amount of professionalism and knowledge to help these couples. It is recommended you get a master’s degree with a specialization in marriage and family therapy.
A Clinical Social Worker
The community needs you too. There are many issues prevalent in the society that are preventing people from living life to the fullest. This is because people come from unemployed, unstable households and even from poor neighborhoods. As a result, there is an increase in mental health issues that cause them to lash out and succumb to their mental condition. As a clinical social worker, it is your job to ensure these people get the help they need by providing counseling and connecting them to hospitals when necessary.
Psychiatric nurses are registered nurses who have a specialization in psychiatric and mental healthcare. However, before you start your career in this direction, you need to get your license as a nurse or an associate degree. You will then care for patients under severe mental, behavioral and emotional distress. You may work in hospitals and clinics and even prescribe medicines where appropriate.
Mental Health Nurse Practitioners
You can also choose to become a nurse practitioner by specializing in psychiatry and mental health. This advanced field requires you to study extensively as you will provide assessments and therapeutic interventions to patients. You will treat several mental health conditions, including treating people with addiction problems outside of the clinic. However, ensure you continue studying and earn at least a master’s in psychology so that you can have a successful career.
Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in psychiatric disorders. However, if you’re going for psychiatry, you will need to do a lot more than a degree in psychology. You need to complete at least four years of medical school and then do a residency in the field of psychiatry. This is the most promising and successful career by far, giving you high prestige and a reputation in the world of psychology.
If you wish to become an educator, you may need to get a teaching degree on the side. As someone with a bachelor’s in psychology, you can become a teacher’s assistant but work your way to a Ph.D. As a psychology professor, you will teach your students about the field itself and help them collect data to conduct research work. You can even write your teaching manual and compile your research into a book. So if you want to combine your love for teaching and psychology, you may want to go down this path.
Psychology is a promising field. Not only do you get a chance to work with different clients and even publish your research. However, before you start a career, you need to plan your degree and figure out what you need for your job. Then you must ensure you’re active on the field and gain substantial experience working under various doctors and interning in clinics. Don’t forget to publish your research papers. The careers that wait for you weave in and out of clinical settings. You can become a therapist, a marriage counselor, a social worker, and even a psychiatrist. So prepare yourself today and make your way to a promising career.