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Why a career in mental health could be a great choice for you

by Chloe Baird
Posted: July 14, 2021

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Did you know that mental illness is on the rise in Australia?  

Now more than ever, it’s important that we have enough qualified, trained professionals working in the mental health sector to respond to this demand. 

There are plenty of reasons to begin working in mental health. If you’ve been thinking of pursuing a career in mental health, now’s the time to start. Read on to discover more about what you can expect working in the mental health sector and what skills you need to be a Mental Health Worker.  

Mental health worker

What does a Mental Health Worker do? 

The importance of Mental Health Workers in Australia can’t be underestimated. 

A Mental Health Worker’s primary role is to support and help people living with mental illness, substance abuse, and other social problems.  

There are many different career paths within the mental health sector. For many of these roles, you’ll be working directly with vulnerable people who need support and guidance. And because there are so many different roles, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what an average day looks like for a Mental Health Worker.  

For the most part, however, your clients will come from diverse backgrounds and will all have very different needs, depending on their circumstances. They could be dealing with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression that have been caused by recent events. Or they could be living with issues they’ve been dealing with their whole lives.  

As a Mental Health Worker, it will be your responsibility to offer the support and guidance that match your clients’ individual needs.  

Different jobs in mental health 

Mental Health Workers are one of the most in-demand jobs in Australia right now.   

There are many different roles available for people working in the mental health sector. Mental Health Workers can work in both private and public organisations.  

These are just some of the careers you could consider working in mental health: 

  • Case Worker 
  • Community Support Worker 
  • Mental Health Outreach Worker 
  • Mental Health Rehabilitation Support Worker 
  • Drug and Alcohol Support Worker 
  • Psychologist 
  • Mental Health Nurse. 

How do I know if I should work in mental health? 

Like many jobs, there are certain skills you need to have to be a successful Mental Health Worker. Some skills can be learned and improved on with training. But there are also certain personality traits that are important to have if you want to work in mental health – such as compassion and patience. That said, even if you feel like you don’t have some of these inherent qualities, some traits can be gained through experience.   

The most important thing to remember if you’re considering a career working in mental health is that you need to have a desire to help others and to learn. Each day working in mental heath will bring new challenges and new opportunities for you to learn and grow in both a professional and a personal capacity.   

These are some of the personal characteristics and skills you need to be a Mental Health Worker: 

1. Communication skills 

Communication skills are paramount for Mental Health Workers. When dealing with your clients, you need to ensure that you’re taking in everything they tell you as well as the things they might not be saying. As a Mental Health Worker, you need to read between the lines.  

Communication skills also include the ability to build a strong rapport with your clients. They need to be able to trust you and understand that you always have their best interests at heart.  

As well as your clients, you’ll also be communicating with your colleagues and other health professionals like Doctors, Nurses, Psychologists and Psychiatrists. Because mental health care can sometimes take an holistic approach, it means that you may also be working very closely with other professionals. This means that you need to ensure that all communication between yourself and your colleagues is clear and transparent in order to best help the client.  

2. Problem solving and conflict/resolution skills 

Sometimes, you might find yourself in high-tension situations that you’ll need to de-escalate as quickly as possible. This means that you need to be able to work well under pressure and that you need decisive problem-solving skills.  

For example, if you’re working with a client who suddenly becomes very agitated and upset, you need to be able to stay calm while working out the best way to calm the client down before things escalate. Alternatively, if the client is unable to be calmed down, what are the appropriate steps you need to take as a trained Mental Health Worker? 

3.  Time management and organisational skills 

As a Mental Health Worker, you’ll often find that your days are varied and busy. You’ll most likely be looking after multiple clients, which means you need to have great time management and organisational skills. All your clients deserve your full attention, so you need to make sure you’re on time and fully present for them.  

Mental health worker

4. Compassion and empathy  

Working in mental health means that you’ll be working very closely with vulnerable people who are doing it tough. In order to best help them, you need to be able to empathise with them and understand the challenges that they’re facing.  

Just remember to maintain your own professional boundaries with your clients. This is as important for the client as it is for yourself. Being empathetic and compassionate is important, but remember to also look after your own mental health and wellbeing.  

Compassion and empathy are also important traits to have when it comes to dealing with people from diverse backgrounds. Having an understanding of different cultural and societal perspectives is incredibly important in order to better interact with these communities.

5. Patience 

Do you often fly off the handle when things don’t work out the way you want them to? Do you get frustrated waiting in line at the shops? 

While patience is most often a trait that people either do or do not inherently have, it is something that can be developed and improved on. And having patience while working in the mental health sector will serve you very well.  

You may find that you’re dealing with a difficult client. It may take you a long time to finally get results from your client, but remaining positive, supportive and patient should ultimately pay off for you both.  

Alternatively, you could discover that a particular admin process that’s part of the system can take a while to move forward. While slow turnaround times can be frustrating for you, they can be equally (if not more) frustrating for your client. You need to remain patient and reassure your client that things are in progress and that you’re doing what you can to help them.  

Are you ready to pursue a career helping others? 

Do you believe you have what it takes to work in mental health?

Do you want to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people? 

At OC, we have a number of healthcare courses that we offer online. Two of our courses focus on the mental health sector. And, as they are both offered online, this gives you the flexibility to study whenever and wherever you want.  

The CHC43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health can help teach you how you can help support vulnerable people living with mental health issues. 

We also offer the CHC43215 Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs as an online course, which will teach you the skills and knowledge required to support clients living with substance abuse disorders.  

What are you waiting for? Enrol with Open Colleges today and discover where your career in mental health could take you. 

If you feel like you need to speak to someone about your mental health, you can contact your local GP or get in touch with Lifeline. You can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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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