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What are the Different Mental Health Jobs?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Jan 26, 2024
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Mental health jobs are intensely focused on caring for those with mental illnesses and whenever possible facilitating recovery from those illnesses. The types of careers available in this field are diverse and represent a wide variety of training time and potential for pay. Moreover, many of the mental health careers offer opportunities to employ skills in different ways. Some of the main mental health jobs include those held by psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, licensed clinical social workers, nurses and a variety of technicians.

For people who want to make diagnoses, prescribe medications, and possibly perform therapy, the career of choice may be psychiatry. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with additional specialized training in the care mental illness. Some work privately, seeing patients primarily on an outpatient basis. Others work in long term care living facilities, hospitals, day treatment centers or mental hospitals. Some can consult with one of these facilities and at the same time maintain a private practice.

Psychologists may take a variety of mental health jobs, and like psychiatrists, they could work in numerous locations. They may perform therapy and some forms of mental health and educational testing. A psychologist’s work doesn’t necessarily have to be patient-centered, and some of these professionals, who possess a doctorate in psychology, contribute to the mental health field by doing research, teaching, or both.

A number of licensed counselors including marriage family therapists, licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical social workers acquire mental health jobs. Quite a few of these professionals, who generally have a master’s level education, are therapists and maintain a private practice where they meet with patients. Mental hospitals and other hospitals could employ some therapists to meet the mental health needs of patients.

Nurses, especially psychiatric nurses, find mental health jobs in many inpatient and outpatient hospitals for the mentally ill. Most nurses in this field have at least a bachelor’s degree in registered nursing and may possess post-graduate training in psychiatric nursing or may have master’s degrees. Some psychiatric nurses also find work with psychiatrists, and may be of use in educating psychiatrists’ clients on medication and med-compliance.

Psychiatric technicians who may have varying levels of training are most often found in mental health jobs at day care and lock-up institutions. Some of these folks might also work in hospitals designated for the criminally insane. People interested in these jobs should check carefully with regional standards to determine what level of training is required.

There can be other jobs that are distinctly related to mental health. Drug and alcohol counselors certainly are part of this field, and may have different levels of training depending on region. Any large institution serving the mentally ill will also employ people like cooks, folks to do maintenance and typically security personnel who can become involved if needed to help someone who is severely ill and potentially dangerous.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Animandel — On Aug 13, 2014

@Laotionne - There are way too few mental health professionals compared to the numbers of people who need their help. Financial concerns do keep many of these people from seeking help. However, I think mental illness is now receiving more attention, and hopefully as we move forward governments and individuals will see that mental health jobs and mental health professionals are a necessity not a luxury.

By Laotionne — On Aug 12, 2014

I would like to get in one of the mental health professions, but I am concerned that I might have a difficult time finding a job. Many of the government funded mental health institutions where I live have closed because of financial cutbacks. This means there are more people competing for fewer mental health jobs.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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