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Want a Career in Mental Health Care? Here are Your Options

Mental health is a critical component of overall well-being, yet it is often overlooked. It is estimated that one in five people in Australia, will experience a mental health issue every year. And sadly, only about half of those people receive treatment.

With such a high prevalence, it’s not surprising that there is a growing demand for mental health care professionals. Mental health care is an important medical field, and there are many different ways for you to get involved. It can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, with the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives. So if you’re considering a career in mental health care, here are some of the options you should consider:

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologists help people deal with mental and emotional disorders. They provide therapy and counseling services, and may also prescribe medication. Clinical psychologists often work in private practice, but may also work in hospitals or clinics.  If this is the career path you choose, it is important to be passionate about helping others, have excellent communication skills, and be able to stay calm under pressure. It can be challenging but extremely rewarding work.

If you want to become a clinical psychologist, you will need to have a Master’s or Doctoral degree in psychology. You can start by completing an accredited four-year undergraduate degree in psychology, followed by a two-year Master’s degree. Alternatively, even if you have never studied psychology before, you can get a Graduate Diploma of Psychology online which will give you the basic foundation for a Doctoral degree. This is a longer path, but it may be more feasible if you have other commitments.

Psychiatric Nurse

A psychiatric nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in mental health care. They provide care and support to people with mental illness and work closely with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Psychiatric nurses often work in hospitals or clinics, but may also work in private practice or community mental health centers.  To be a psychiatric nurse, you will need to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. You can then specialize in psychiatric nursing by completing a Master’s degree or postgraduate certificate program.

Some psychiatric nurses may also choose to become certified as a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or a Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse (PMHNP). These credentials can give you an extra edge when applying for jobs and can help you advance in your career.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They can prescribe medication, and may also provide therapy and counseling services. Psychiatrists often work in hospitals or clinics, but may also work in private practice. Regardless of the setting, they work closely with other mental health professionals to provide comprehensive care to patients.

The path to becoming a psychiatrist is a long one, but it can be very rewarding. To become a psychiatrist, you will need to complete a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by a four-year medical degree. You will then complete a four-year residency in psychiatry. After that, you may choose to complete a fellowship or subspecialty training. Although it is a long path, it is worth it if you want to make a difference in the lives of those with mental illness.


While a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, a psychotherapist is a mental health professional who provides therapy and counseling services. Psychotherapists do not prescribe medication, but they can provide a valuable form of treatment for mental illness. Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for many different types of mental illness, and it is often used in conjunction with medication.

If you want to become a psychotherapist, you will need to have at least a Master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or social work. You may also need to complete additional training, depending on the state in which you practice.  It is important to be passionate about helping others and have excellent communication skills if you want to be a successful psychotherapist.

Social Worker

Social workers play an important role in mental health care. They provide counseling and support to people with mental illness, and they also work with families and caregivers. The most important role of a social worker is to advocate for patients and ensure that they are receiving the best possible care.

Becoming a  social worker requires at least a Bachelor’s degree in social work. However, many social workers choose to pursue a Master’s degree in social work (MSW). This can give you an extra edge when applying for jobs and can help you advance in your career. Another option for those interested in social work is to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). This credential requires additional education and experience, but it can open up more opportunities for you.

Mental Health Counselor

Mental health counselors provide counseling and support to people with mental illness. They often work in private practice, but may also work in hospitals, clinics, or other settings. Mental health counselors typically have at least a Master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or social work.

Mental health counselors help people with a wide range of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Counselors may also provide marriage and family counseling. If you want to become a mental health counselor, you must have excellent communication skills and are passionate about helping others. Just keep in mind that it takes a minimum of a Master’s degree to enter this field.

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists (OTs) help people with mental illness regain independence and function in their everyday lives. They work with patients to develop abilities that are necessary for work, school, and other activities of daily living. For instance,  an OT might help a patient with schizophrenia learn how to manage their medication regimen or a patient with depression learn how to socialize and interact with others.

If you want to pursue a career in occupational therapy, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy. You will also need to complete a clinical fellowship or internship. To be an effective OT, you must be compassionate and patient. It is also important that you have excellent communication and problem-solving skills. But with the right skill set, this can be a very rewarding career.

These are just a few of the many different career options available in mental health care. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, it’s important to do your research and choose an option that best suits your interests and skillset. As you can see, there are even online programs available, so even if you can’t commit to a traditional brick-and-mortar school, you can still get the education and training you need to enter this rewarding field.

No matter which route you choose, remember that the most important thing is to be passionate about helping others. And with a little hard work and dedication, you can be on your way to a successful career in mental health care.

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