Mental Health Careers

by Taylor Thompson, and Ruben Carrera

social worker

*education & training required : masters degree in social work are required , a major in sociology, phychiology , or other social sciences.*Daily Duties & Tasks : Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve people's lives. · Assist people by helping them cope with issues in their everyday lives, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and family problems. · Help clients who face a disability or a life-threatening disease or a social problem, such as inadequate housing, unemployment, or substance abuse. · Assist families that have serious domestic conflicts, sometimes involving child or spousal abuse.*Overall roles & responcibilitys:

● caring for family members

● experiencing problems with family relationships and conflicts

● struggling with the challenges of growing old

● suffering serious personal troubles and mental distress

● having drug and alcohol problems

● facing difficulties as a result of disability, including feeling isolated within the community and experiencing practical problems with money or housing. Social work is the safety net of society. Trained and qualified social workers intervene into private and/or family life in order to:

● protect individuals from harm to themselves or to others

● promote human development and security, social inclusion and participation across the lifespan.* salary: 34,820 per year *Personal qualities & characteristics needed : Some of the major or key qualities a social worker ought to possess are good communication skills and knowing how to handle different kinds of people well or what is normally referred to as people skills. Other qualities of a social worker could include being able to earn and develop trusting relationships with the people he or she is working with (the client), be committed to helping the client overcome his or her difficulties, have an understanding of different aspects of the law and possess a lot of patience and maturity to be able to deal bureaucratic procedures.

Mental health nurse

Several career paths are available to mental health nurses:

  • LPNs complete a one-year training program at a community college or technical school.
  • RNs complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • Mental health nurse practitioners (APRN-PMHs) complete a master’s degree or doctorate in advanced practice nursing with a focus on psychiatry

The salary of a mental health nurse increases with education and experience:

  • LPNs earned salaries from $29,680 to $56,010 in 2010.
  • RNs earned anywhere from $44,190 to $95,130 in 2010.
  • The salary for nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) ranged from $61,277 to $110,738.
  • Those who hold a doctorate can expect to earn between $76,282 and $108,615

Typical work activities

The work carried out by a mental health nurse can vary depending on the setting and specialist group they are working with. But the role typically consists of:

  • caring for patients experiencing acute mental distress or who have an enduring mental illness;
  • assessing and talking to patients about their problems and discussing the best way to plan and deliver their care;
  • building relationships with patients to encourage trust, while listening to and interpreting their needs and concerns;
  • ensuring the correct administration of medication, including injections, and monitoring the results of treatment;
  • responding to distressed patients in a non-threatening manner and attempting to understand the source of distress;
  • applying 'de-escalation' techniques to help people manage their emotions and behaviour;
  • preparing and participating in group and/or one-to-one therapy sessions, both individually and with other health professionals;
  • providing evidence-based individual therapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy for depression and anxiety

Family and Marriage Therapy

Marriage and family therapists assess, diagnose, and treat mental illness and psychological distress within the context of the marriage and family systems. The professionals provide counseling services in several different areas including premarital counseling, relationship counseling, child counseling, and separation and divorce counseling.

So what makes marriage and family therapists different from other kinds of therapists? While they offer psychotherapy and attend to mental health issues, they focus more on how family dynamics impact psychological health. On a daily basis they might deal with numerous different client issues such as, self-harm, depression, anxiety, grief, anger, and relationship problems.

In addition to providing client services, many professionals in the field spend time marketing their services, particularly if they work in private practice. Completing paperwork and dealing with insurance companies also takes up a significant portion of a therapist's time. When working with a client, therapists need to maintain accurate case progress notes, keep a record of evaluations, and note any recommendations for further treatment.

As of May 2011, the median annual salary for marriage and family therapists was $46,240. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the highest paying industries for this profession include:

  • State government - $62,150 (median annual wage)
  • Local government - $56,870
  • Home health care - $55,830
  • Hospitals and other medical settings - $54,700

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) suggests that the minimum training to become a marriage and family therapist includes a master's degree plus two years of supervised clinical experience. After completing these educational requirements, therapists must also pass state licensing exams.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry. A psychiatrist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who must evaluate patients to determine whether or not their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental, or a strictly psychiatric one. In order to do this, they may employ the psychiatric examination itself, a physical exam, brain imaging (computerized tomography or CT/CAT scan), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning), and blood laboratories. Psychiatrists prescribe medicine, and may also use psychotherapy, although the vast majority do medical management and refer to a psychologist or another specialized therapist for weekly to bi-monthly psychotherapy.\

Pyschiatrists are doctors who diagnose, treat, and manage mental health in a variety of settings and for a diverse patient population. They also prescribe medications and provide psychotherapy to thier patients. Psychoanalysis involves long-term psychotherapy and counseling for patients. In many cases, medications are administered to correct chemical imbalances that cause emotional problems. Psychiatrists very rarely may administer electroconvulsive therapy to those of their patients who do not respond to, or who cannot take, medications.


In all 50 states and the U.S. Territories Physicians are regulated. The usual method to be a credentialed and licensed family or general psychiatrist is:


1) Possess the amount of training and/or a degree from an accredited school of medicine
2)Complete an accredited program of psychiatry
3) Pass a national exam
4) Apply for licensure in the state you wish to practice in