How do I get Mental Health Employment?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2019
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There are many ways to obtain mental health employment. Most of these begin with getting appropriate training in a mental health profession. Plenty of variety exists in what people can do in this field. Much of the initial work is determining what a person wants to do. Once professional training is ended, job searches commence, and lots of advice exists on how to search for the best job.

The number of mental health employment careers is fairly extensive. Those that require a little training might include drug and alcohol counselor, in some regions, psychiatric technician, administrative assistant, and others. Mid-level training could be required for registered nurses, but psychiatric nurses and psychiatric nurse practitioners will generally have to study beyond bachelor degree level for this expertise. Occupational, art and mental health therapists may require master’s work, as do licensed clinical social workers. Psychologists need a doctorate, and psychiatrists require medical school and further specialization in psychiatry.

Determining what area people may want to seek mental health employment in can help when planning an educational path. There can be advantages to careers that only require a few years of study, but their disadvantages include fewer responsibilities and lower pay. People are advised to think about their passion for mental health work before they commit to studies.


As soon as, or before, studies are complete, job search should begin. People might consider their willingness to relocate or commute to work, as these factors determine where to search. If people are willing to relocate, they should consider doing some research on other regions to decide which ones are the most attractive. It also helps to know how many mental health resources exist in any particular community. A psychiatric technician is most likely going to want to live in an area that has a mental hospital or day program. With many budget cuts affecting hospitals worldwide, determining the healthiness of programs in an area makes good sense.

People might find work on job search sites and with professional licensing organizations, or they could work with a headhunter or recruiter. Schools may also be resources for mental health employment. Some schools have job placement programs that might assist in finding work.

One nebulous area of mental health employment exists for those who plan to practice privately. It often takes a while to build up a base of clients, unless people are allowed to retain clients they have acquired while obtaining supervised licensing hours. This isn’t always the case. Beginning therapists might look for work with mental hospitals or day programs, and they could find work with a variety of therapy associations.

Self-promotion could be particularly important for therapists too. It’s not a bad idea for new therapists to set up a website and start blogging. A good site may show up when people search for therapists in an area, which can bring in new clients.



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