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The Good Listener: 3 Things to Know About Mental Health Work

By: Donna Chaffins | Date: November 15, 2017 | Categories: Family and Health

Mental health is a big topic lately, and there has never been as much need for committed people in the sector than now. We don’t mind talking about mental health issues anymore – at least not as much as we did ten years ago. With the shift in attitudes towards mental health, people find themselves opening up a bit more, talking more about their problems and, hopefully, seeking help as soon as possible.

If you have ever considered a career in the sector, you’ve probably asked yourself if it is even the right fit for your personality. Do you have the capacity to provide the kind of care people need – and do you have the emotional strength to take in everything you’ll hear? Luckily, there are a lot of different routes in the mental health sector, and you don’t have to go clinical if it sounds a bit too heavy.

3 things to know about mental health work

Use this simple guide to navigate the options and get a better grasp of what it means to work in the mental health sector. It’s not all talk, after all.

#1 You have a lot of options

The field can seem a bit daunting to a prospective student or someone considering a career in mental health. It’s not always straightforward, and you have a ton of options for progressing and finding your specialty, so don’t write it off just because you don’t know exactly what you’d like to do with your degree quite yet.

From being a professional counselor, going into social work, and becoming a clinical psychologist or even a psychiatrist – your options are many, and each one may require you to take a different route. It goes without saying that anything clinical will require an extensive education, though, but it’s not to say that these degrees are out of reach if you have children or a busy lifestyle; look at a masters in mental health counseling online, for example, and you’ll be able to follow the course while keeping a jour with your life as well.

#2 It is a stressful career option

While it is true that most jobs are stressful, there is a certain human element to working in mental health care that can make the stress weigh especially heavy. As an IT professional, you’ll probably have hectic days as well, but you don’t have the emotional factor to it that those working with people need to deal with. Social work, medicine, and mental health may drain you emotionally – you see and hear things that it’s difficult to forget about when you return home.

Your education will help you to cope with this emotional drainage and teach you techniques for mastering the special kind of stress that you might experience.

#3 You may go a bit numb

The stress we talked about above may lead to either a sense of numbness in order to cope with the job – or emotional overload. You don’t have to choose between the two, though, and numbness is not an inevitable option when you’d like to keep your sanity; talking to other professional and colleagues is an excellent way of coping with the work. Your own mental health is also important, and it will be difficult to provide proper care when you’re burned out or experiencing compassion fatigue from the job.

A healthy balance between work and play is also important to any mental health care worker. Remember to take care of yourself, and you’ll be able to help others too – which is, after all, why you got into the field.

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