A mental health aide is a person who helps to care for patients who are mentally ill. This person often works in a hospital or care facility that houses mentally ill patients. He is usually expected to work under the supervision of a nurse or mental health technician and perform his duties not only with competency, but also with both compassion and patience. A person in this field may have a wide range of duties that include everything from assisting with therapy and helping the patient to take his medications to assisting with daily living tasks and documenting the patient's progress.
The job of a mental health aide can be both physically and emotionally demanding. His job usually involves interacting with patients and helping them to communicate their needs. It may also involve helping patients to develop social interaction and daily living skills. Often, a person in this field provides recreational therapy for those in his care and may also help with other types of therapeutic procedures. When patients require medication, a person in this field may also be responsible for ensuring that they take it.
Often, mental health aides also perform some housekeeping duties for their charges. This may include duties such as making their beds and helping to keep their rooms clean and orderly. They may also serve meals and help patients eat, if necessary. In some cases, a mental health aide will also help the patient care for his body. For example, a person in this position may help the patient bathe and care for his skin, hair, and nails in addition to performing his other duties.
An individual who works as a mental health aide may also be responsible for documenting patient progress by keeping accurate records. If he notes changes that require the attention of psychiatric professionals, it is usually his job to report them. He may also be responsible for providing transportation to appointments that are off the facility's premises.
In most places, a person can become a mental health aide without going to college or earning a degree. Many employers do require applicants to have high school diplomas, however. While in high school, a person can prepare for this career by taking math and science courses and paying particular attention to coursework in subjects such as psychology and health. Some employers, especially hospitals, may prefer new aides who have worked as nurse's aides or have completed training programs. Many others, however, are willing to provide on-the-job training for suitable applicants.