There is no doubt that one of the main topics of conversation that has been had around the world is one that relates directly to mental health. There are more and more people who are analyzing themselves and also being able to identify any potential issues that they may be having. At the same time, there has also been a huge reduction in the stigma of getting mental health problems sorted, which can also make all the difference in so many different ways. This huge expansion of awareness of the issue has inevitably resulted in an increased demand for a position such as mental health nurses, counselors, psychiatrists, and any other job that is directly involved in looking at people more closely and helping them to get better.
With events that have taken place around the world, such as the lockdowns that came about as a result of the covid pandemic, there is no doubt that the demand for mental health services is one that has increased in a big way. Therefore, if you are looking to join the fray and potentially get involved in a career in mental health, you are going to need to know about the type of skills that are required. This way, you can tick off the ones that you have already, as well as being able to work on the ones that you do not. While the following list is not going to be entirely comprehensive, it is going to offer you a good overview. So, without any further ado, let’s get started on this.
First of all, we are not going to talk about the soft skills that are required and will begin with the actual qualifications. There are some professions, such as psychiatry, that are going to require many years of study in order to advance and progress. However, there are others that are going to be available at much more of an entry level. Ultimately, you are going to have to work out which sort of areas are the ones that are going to be the ones that are most suitable for you. For example, it may be that you have already been a nurse or you are currently working as one. In this situation, you can then look to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. This can really make all the difference in ensuring that you are able to progress in this area. However, it may be the case that you are going to want to have a complete career change, but you already possess a lot of the soft skills that are necessary. What is worth bearing in mind is that you going to need to continually work hard as mental health is a complex field, and the mind requires a lot of time studying and working out. At the same time, there is also the sense that changes are happening all of the time, which means that you are going to need to have that drive to keep your skills as fresh as they possibly can be.
Good Levels of Empathy
This may feel like it is the type of point that is already quite clear and obvious, but there is no doubt that having high levels of empathy can also make all the difference. A big part of this comes down to the fact that you are going to be working with a lot of different people in a range of situations. They will have gone through all sorts of situations in their lives and potentially done some things that are difficult to understand. This is where the high levels of empathy are going to carry you through in so many different ways. For example, it may be the case that you are going to be working as a counselor. While you are going to naturally warm to some patients easily, there are also many more who are going to prove to be more difficult. However, you need to be able to treat them all in the same manner and not let this seep into the professional side of your personality. The moment you start to judge people, this is where your judgment can be impaired, and all sorts of other issues have the potential of arising as a direct result of this particular fact.
Ability to Work as Part of a Team
While this is the case for a lot of different jobs, there are some crucial teamwork aspects involved in a career in mental health that you need to be on board with right from the outset. This is down to the fact that it is often the case that you are working as part of a whole team of people who are supporting different patients. Even if you are working in a role that seems like it is more individually based, such as being a psychiatrist, you are still going to have different bodies that you work with and individuals who are tasked with looking at your skills and ensuring that they are as fresh and relevant as they possibly can be.
Good Understanding of Mental Health Theories
Ultimately, while the body has particular certainties about it, the mind is an altogether more complicated area – and there is the feeling that we are only just starting to scratch the surface. Therefore, you need to be able to understand all of the major theories that are out there. Otherwise, you can easily end up in a situation in which you do not have enough knowledge to progress to the level that you would like to. Of course, a lot of the theories that you are understanding should be taught to you as part of the course that you are involved in. At the same time, there are bound to be certain elements that you understand in more detail and are happy to take on board, whereas others you can be quite dismissive of. Even so, you still need to have that basic level of understanding of all of them.
Able to Separate Work and Social Life
There is no doubt that you are going to be involved in all sorts of situations that are highly challenging to deal with in the field of mental health. However, you need to be able to find a way to decompress from them and stand aside in certain situations. Otherwise, it is all too likely that they are going to become totally overwhelming to you. So, it is going to be ideal if you have a strong support network of people all around you. You also need the type of hobbies that are really going to help you out in a big way when it comes to being able to decompress from the situations that you find yourself in during the day. If you are not able to make this clear and obvious distinction between the two different areas in your life, you can end up in a situation in which neither one of them is going in the way that you want them to.
Great Communication Skills
There is no doubt that this point has been touched upon in a lot of different areas so far, but good communication is something that should be running through everything that you are going to be doing in your work in mental health. First of all, you are going to need to be able to communicate with the patients themselves, which can involve having to change your approach depending on who you are talking to. Bearing this in mind, one of the major elements that we are talking about here is certainly the ability to listen. Without this, you are not going to be able to really get to grips with what your patients are telling you. This also means that it is going to be highly difficult for you to suggest the type of solutions that make a big difference in their lives. Ultimately, the better that you are able to communicate with your patients, the more adept at the job that you are likely to be. At the same time, you are also going to need great communication skills when it comes to working alongside your colleagues in a way that takes on the style of teamworking that has already been discussed. There are also bound to be occasions in which you do not agree entirely with them. However, these types of disagreements really need to be had in a way that is entirely respectful and without causing a major issue that is going to affect your work.
The skills that you need to progress in the field of mental health are certainly varied, but these are among some of the most crucial elements. To begin with, you are going to need to gain the right qualifications. This means progressing in whatever field that you are looking to work in. In some situations, this means that you are going to need to go to university for years on end. In others, you may be able to do more training on the job. Ultimately, it all comes back to which particular field of mental health that you would like to find yourself working in and how far up the ladder that you would like to be traveling.
Next up on the list, there is certainly the sense that you are going to need great reserves of empathy in order to keep on progressing in the right direction. Without these, you are going to seriously struggle when it comes to dealing with patients that you find to be more difficult or challenging in one way or another. In terms of other skills that you are going to need, you certainly need to be able to both listen well and communicate your thoughts to others. For example, if you’re going to be a trained counselor, a major part of what you are going to be doing will come back to listening and offering your thoughts and specific times.
Beyond all of this, you are also going to need a great overview of the different theories that can help you out, and you may want to specialize in further down the line. While you may not agree with every single element, you certainly need to be able to take them on board and have an understanding. It is more than likely to be the case that some of these theories will become outdated over the years as new ones come in and replace them. This is due to the fact that we are really only scratching the surface in the field of mental health, which means that, in a big way that there is a lot that still needs to be done and accomplished. However, there is certainly a great sense of appeal that you could well be at the forefront of all of this.
Ultimately, this misses out on one of the crucial elements of a career in mental health, which is certainly the ability to separate your working and your regular social life. Otherwise, it is all too easy to find yourself in a situation in which you are going to seriously struggle with both parts of it. This may not be an easy balancing act, to begin with, but it is certainly something that you have the ability to work on over time and gradually improve until you have found a way to deal with everything successfully. If you have been reading this blog post and identifying a lot of yourself within the words, it could well prove to be the perfect time to really progress and advance in this field. After all, you are going to be working in an area which is really at the focus of so many conversations around the world and one that is likely to shape all of our lives in a bigger and bigger way as time continues to move on ever forwards.