If you’re looking for a career path that allows you to help people, challenges you on a regular basis, and make a real difference in the medical system, a career in mental health may be right for you. In this article, we detail some of the most popular careers in mental health in the United Kingdom. Is one of these roles right for you?
What is Mental Health?
The term mental health refers to our sense of psychological, emotional, and social wellbeing. Our mental health affects our daily lives, often dictating how we feel, the decisions we make, our thought patterns, and how we act. If our mental health is suffering, it can become challenging to make good choices.[i] While we often think of mental health as affecting only adults, mental health is extremely important in children and adolescents as well.
People with severe mental health challenges often experience hardships, struggling to maintain healthy relationships, manage their daily lives, and to excel in their careers. However, many seemingly ‘normal people’ have hidden mental health struggles, such as depression and anxiety, that they manage effectively.
There is no shame or stigma associated with mental illness. Today, more and more notable people and celebrities are revealing their own battles with these issues.[ii]
Mental health problems, including schizophrenia, depression disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder, can be caused by a wide variety of factors.[iii] These include:
- Genetic and biological factors, including brain chemistry
- Physical causes, such a head trauma
- Lifestyle factors, such as drug or alcohol abuse, lack of sleep, or diet
- A past history of abuse or trauma
- Family genetics and modelled behaviour from family members
- Hardships, such as the death of a loved one or losing a job
Often, these causes can compound and trigger one another. However, even if you struggle with a history of mental illness, with the right tools and support, you can overcome these problems.
Early Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems
Some of the early warning signs of mental illness include:
- A notable change in appetite
- Losing interest in activities one used to find enjoyable
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Lethargy – having little energy
- A sense of numbness, like nothing in life matters
- Engaging in risky behaviours, including drinking, drug-taking, smoking
- Memory problems, or feeling confused
- Increased conflict with colleagues, family, or friends
- Extreme mood swings that you can’t moderate
- Intrusive thoughts of self-harm or harming others
- Ruminating on thoughts and memories
If you notice that you or a loved one is exhibiting the early signs of mental health problems, it’s time to get some help. Effective help is out there, and mental health professionals can make a powerful impact on a sufferer’s life.
Mental health professionals can help you:
- Cope with stress and become more resilient to life’s ups and downs
- Work on strategies to manage anxiety and depression
- Connect you with more resources when needed, such as prescribed medications
- Arm you with tools you can use when you feel a mental health issue arising
- Work on sleep hygiene so you can get more quality rest
Careers Available in the Mental Health Sector
If you want to work with and support people dealing with the issues listed above, a career in the mental health sector may be the right path for you.[iv]
Clinical or Counselling Psychologist
What is a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist?
Clinical and counselling psychologists help to diagnose people who present with emotional and behavioural problems. In addition to mental health issues, they can also help with strategies to manage neurological conditions, such as epilepsy.[v] They can also help patients manage illnesses, crises, and life changes.
What education do you need to become a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist?
Clinical and Counselling Psychologists need to earn a PhD or PsyD degree in psychology.
Annual salary for Clinical or Counselling Psychologists in the UK: Starting salaries with the NHS range from £30,401 to £37,267. With significant experience and responsibility, that income can raise to between £61,777 to £86,687.[vi]
Marriage and Family Therapist
What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Marriage and family therapists work with families, couples, and individuals, helping them manage conflict and come to a place of cooperation and resolution. The goal is improved communication and happier relationships.
What education do you need to become a Marriage and Family Therapist? You need a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy to embark on this career.
Annual salary for Marriage and Family Therapists in the UK[vii]: The average starting salary is £40,651. A senior-level licensed Marriage and Family Therapist earns an average of £70,558 per annum.
Clinical Social Worker
What is a Clinical Social Worker?
Clinical social workers help to safeguard vulnerable people from harm. They support families and individuals and advocate for them as they navigate the healthcare and housing systems.
What education do you need to become a Clinical Social Worker? Clinical social workers need a three-year undergraduate degree as well as a Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)-approved two-year postgraduate degree in social work.[viii]
Annual salary for Clinical Social Workers in the UK: The average salary for a Clinical Social Worker in the UK is £35,064 per annum.
What is a Psychiatric Nurse?
Psychiatric nurses are qualified nurses who specialise in caring for patients with psychiatric needs and mental health issues.
What education do you need to become a Psychiatric Nurse? To work as a Psychiatric Nurse, you must first complete a pre-registration nursing degree or nursing degree apprenticeship and be registered with the Midwifery Council (NMC).[ix]
Annual salary for Psychiatric Nurses in the UK: Newly qualified Psychiatrist Nurses earn an annual salary of between £24,907 to £30,615. The highest-paid NHS Psych Nurses make £45,753 to £51,668 per annum.
What is a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health and psychiatric illnesses.
What education do you need to become a Psychiatrist? Psychiatrists need to complete a five-year medicine degree, as well as a two-year general foundation programme and three years of core psychiatry training.
Annual salary for Psychiatrists in the UK: The average NHS Psychiatrist earns £74,770 per annum.[x]
Mental Health Counsellor
What is a Mental Health Counsellor? Mental Health Counsellors help people to manage, treat, and overcome addiction and other mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
What education do you need to become a Mental Health Counsellor? Technically, there are no formal qualification requirements to call oneself a counsellor in the UK.[xi] However, most employers and clients will expect you to have a 3-year BA, followed by a master’s degree in mental health counselling.
Annual salary for Mental Health Counsellors in the UK: Annual salaries start at £20,000 to £26,000. However, with experience and specialisation, private practice counsellors can earn more than £40,000 per annum.
How to get a Job in Mental Health
If you’re wondering “how do I get a job in mental health,” this section is for you.
A sense of genuine care and compassion is required for anyone who wants to enter into a mental healthcare career path. Anyone thinking about applying for jobs in the mental health sector needs to have specific skills and qualities. These include:
- A strong sense of empathy and compassion
- Excellent communication skills
- Willingness to listen
- Assertive and the ability to stand up for yourself
- Able to ‘think outside the box’ to solve complex problems
- Calm and reliable
- Committed to helping others
If you have these personal attributes, you then need to undertake the correct training and education.[xii] For all of the careers listed above, you will need a three-year BA course. To work as a psychiatrist or a psychologist, you will also need a master’s degree and a doctorate. In addition to education, you also need intensive on-the-job experience, which comes in the form of apprenticeships and practicums.
It’s a good idea to ‘test the waters’ by taking a few online healthcare courses to find out if you truly have an interest in the subject matter before embarking on a lengthy education programme.
Is mental healthcare the right path for you?
These are rewarding career choices that serve a crucial role in the healthcare system.
Does a career in mental health sound like the right path for you?
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