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A mental health professional is someone who works to diagnose, treat, or counsel people with mental health problems. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors can all be placed into this category. The types of training that they have received and the services that they provide usually differ.
In years past, mental health problems were not widely recognized. It was not common for people to embark on careers in this field. More recently, mental health disorders are widely recognized, defined, and treated. In many countries, mental health treatment is seen as a benefit to society.
There are numerous settings where one can find mental health professionals employed in a developed society. These include asylums, penitentiaries, and community health centers. When a mental health professional works in a facility such as a hospital or community health center, she may deal with a range of problems such as depression, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. She may also deal with a wide range of patients.
Some mental health professionals, however, tend to specialize. They may do this by only concentrating on certain disorders. They may also do this by restricting their services to certain type of patients. For example, a child psychologist does not usually attend to the needs of adults.
There are numerous roles that a mental health professional can play in the lives of people who are suffering from mental health disorders. They may diagnose, or determine, the problem that a person is suffering from. In many cases, this is an extended process that involves a great deal of observation and analysis.
A mental health professional may also seek to help a person cope with his problem. Sometimes mental health disorders can be treated with medication or non-drug techniques. In many instances, however, there are no known cures and a person’s problem can only be managed, at best.
The reason that a person utilizes the services of a mental health professional varies. Some people seek assistance on their own accord. Others may be forced by guardians or the legal system. In many instances when a person cannot afford the services provided by a mental health professional, there are programs in place to provide the services at little or no cost. With some cases, a mental health professional is not paid by her clients but rather by one source.
A good example of this is the mental health professionals that work in prisons. Many inmates have varying degrees of mental disorders. Often, they are treated by a mental health professional during their incarceration. They are not charged for the services that they receive. Instead, the facility is generally responsible to pay for everyone who needs this type of treatment.