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What does a Mental Health Outreach Worker do?

by Chloe Baird
Posted: January 29, 2021

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Taking care of your mental health is extremely important. Recently, there’s been a huge focus on the importance of mental wellbeing, and an uptick in people accessing services.

In a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare it was found that ‘between 16 March 2020 and 27 September 2020, 7.2 million Medicare-subsidised mental health related services were delivered nationally ($791 million paid in benefits).” It also stated that “In September 2020 (31 August to 27 September 2020), the number of services delivered was 15% higher than in the same period in September 2019.’

But there is still a large portion of the population who don’t seek help, which could be for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because they feel a sense of fear or shame; other times it’s because there is limited access to services or they simply don’t know where to start seeking help.

That’s why Mental Health Workers and Outreach Workers have such an important role in our communities.

Read on to find out what a Mental Health Outreach Worker does, what skills you need to be successful and why outreach work is so important.

Outreach Worker Check In

What does a Mental Health Outreach Worker do?

Mental Health Workers may work for a charity organisation, a government-run agency or a private agency. The role of a Mental Heath Worker is to help people who are living with mental health issues, substance abuse, poverty and other social problems. These vulnerable people in the community are often dealing with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression which can be influenced by their situation.

A Mental Health Outreach Worker is generally someone who acts as a point of contact between an organisation and its clients and supporters. Someone employed as an Outreach Worker in the mental health sector would be interacting with people in the community who are living with mental illness, as well as those looking to help support the organisation.

Some of the responsibilities and tasks of a Mental Health Outreach Worker include:

  • organising community outreach programs and encouraging people to join
  • recruiting volunteers
  • advocating for vulnerable people in the community
  • liaising with other members of the organisation (such as participating in case management meetings).

What skills do I need to become a Mental Health Outreach Worker?

If you’re thinking of following a career in mental health then there are a few key skills that will help you achieve success for your clients.

1. Interpersonal skills

Outreach Workers act as the face of the organisation in many ways. So it’s important that you have great interpersonal skills if you want to follow this career path. Whether you’re trying to recruit new volunteers or encouraging people to participate in the latest outreach program, you need to be able to connect with other people.

2. Communication skills

Communication skills are also very important for Outreach Workers, whether they’re explaining the benefits of an outreach program to a potential participant, or organising a group of volunteers for an event.

3. Organisational skills

Outreach Workers need to be on the ball at all times – planning community programs, recruiting volunteers, organising said volunteers, and making sure people show up to your events. This means you need to be highly organised when it comes to outreach work, and be confident leading others.

4. Active listening

Active listening is all about hearing what people are really saying. It involves asking specific questions to get the answers you need, and showing the other person that you’re listening to them by giving verbal and non-verbal cues (such as verbal affirmations or nodding your head). Outreach Workers, like many others that work in the mental health industry, need to make use of active listening skills in their day-to-day. Active listening skills can come into play when you’re searching for the right people to act as volunteers, when you’re communicating with clients or dealing with your colleagues.

5. Awareness

Working in the mental health sector means that you’re often interacting with a diverse range of people from many different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This means that you have to be sensitive of a person’s situation at all times and understand how best to communicate with them and get your message across.

Outreach Worker

Why is outreach work so important?

Outreach work in the mental health sector has never been more important in our communities.

The goal of mental health outreach work is to help support, uplift and empower people in the community who may be struggling with various issues.

Mental health outreach programs may vary in what they’re delivering, but the end goal is the same. For example, some outreach programs may focus on education, while some may assist with helping people reintegrate into the community. Some may provide clinical care in a safe and accessible environment. Some may exist simply to help people feel connected.

How you can help others as a Mental Health Outreach Worker

Why do you want to become a Mental Health Outreach Worker? Many people join the mental health sector because they want to make a difference in vulnerable peoples’ lives; because they want a career that aligns with their personal beliefs and can provide fulfillment; or because they’ve had personal experience and want to help others.

As a Mental Health Outreach Worker, your job is incredibly important when it comes to educating and empowering vulnerable people in the community. While the job has its challenges and can be demanding at times, it can also be very rewarding.

What qualification do I need to become a Mental Health Outreach Worker?

To become a Mental Health Outreach Worker, many employers will expect you to hold a certificate, a diploma or a degree related to social services or mental health.

One of the best places to start is with the CHC43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health.

This qualification in mental health is offered as an online course through OC, which means you can study whenever and wherever you want. During the course, you’ll learn invaluable skills needed to work in the mental health industry, such as how to build solid relationships with your clients, how to provide the right kind of support, how to work collaborative within the industry and how to promote and facilitate self-advocacy. This online course also includes 120 hours of work placement that can provide hands-on, real-world experience.

Are you passionate about advocating for vulnerable people? Do you want to make a difference in peoples’ lives? Then enrol today with OC and take the first step towards a rewarding and fulfilling career in mental health.


Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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