With 1 in 8 adults receiving treatment for their mental health condition, it is hardly surprising there is a rising demand for mental health jobs. NHS England have reported a need to grow the mental health workforce by 27,000. A look at popular jobsite Indeed showed a total of 24,649 mental health job vacancies in the UK*, 15,057 of those full-time positions, a further 7,407 part time jobs, and 48 apprenticeships. All demonstrating a real demand for mental health professionals from all levels of experience, qualifications, and training.
There are also a variety of mental health job roles to consider, including NHS mental health jobs. Here, we look at why you should choose a career in this sector and highlight five jobs and how that can make a difference to individuals and community.
Why Choose A Mental Health Job?
Make a difference to those living with mental health challenges
Whilst friends and family provide what support they can, a mental health professional can assess a situation and recommend the right course of action based on their extensive knowledge.
Opportunity to work with organisations that serve the community
The community could be an individual’s family, their place of work, or place of education, like school or university. These organisations can include the NHS, local authorities and charities such as Mind and Local Minds.
You have the right attitude
If you are a compassionate and open-minded person but also like a challenge, you may be well-suited to a role providing mental health care. These healthcare professionals work with a huge variety of clients that differ in age, background, and severity of mental health issues. The common denominator for all clients will be their vulnerability and, therefore, assisting them with a compassionate but determined and professional approach is essential.
You work well in a team
Look at typical mental health vacancy adverts and you’ll likely read the words ‘join our team’. That’s because providing mental health support, particularly for NHS mental health services, is a team effort. Support workers work as part of a wider team, referring to colleagues in other mental health services where needed.
Five Types of Mental Health Jobs
Education Mental Health Practitioner
You’ll assess and provide mental health support for children and young people aged five to eighteen years old, within educational settings such as primary and secondary schools, and further education colleges. The types of mental health conditions you might deal with include mild to moderate levels of anxiety, depression and behaviour difficulties and you may work one-to-one with children / young people, liaise with parents, carers, and education providers.
The other side of your job is working closely with schools to implement initiatives on how to improve the wellbeing of students. Therefore, whilst you are employed by a healthcare organisation, working as part of a support team, you will likely work in a school or college setting.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioner
You will work with adults of all ages who are experiencing severe mental health conditions. You will support them by providing treatment and care plans to help improve their life and mental wellbeing.
You will work in the community, often seeing adult patients who have been referred by GPs or other local services. You might see your adult patients face-to-face either in their home or in a clinic, sometimes through phone or video call appointments.
You will work for a healthcare organisation such as the NHS and be part of a wider multi-disciplinary team, frequently liaising with your colleagues across the adult mental health care system.
Children’s Wellbeing Practitioner
You assess and support children in the community with common mental health issues such as anxiety, low mood and behavioural difficulties, as well as liaising with parents and carers. Your role is to improve access to support by signposting to appropriate services.
You will likely work in a wider team for public or voluntary sector organisations such as CAMHS, community mental health, primary care, or local authority. On a day-to-day basis you may be stationed at a GP surgery, healthcare, or community centre.
Peer Support Worker
Peer Support Workers have had experience of mental health issues themselves and use that experience and empathy to provide support to those currently receiving help from mental health services.
As a Peer Support Worker, you may work in a hospital or in the community. You may work one-to-one with a patient or support in group work. You will work as part of a team and your work will involve liaising with other professionals from the health and social care sector such as nurses, doctors, and social workers, as well as working closely with the families.
You will use your understanding of psychology and psychotherapeutic research to understand underlying issues behind your clients’ mental health conditions. As such you will need an undergraduate (such as ARU’s distance learning Applied & Clinical Psychology BSc) or master's degree accredited by the British Psychological Society in order to enter a counselling psychology training programme.
You could work with individuals, couples, families, and groups across organisations or in the community. You may work in hospitals, healthcare centres or mental health services and as such likely to work closely with allied health professionals, and other psychological professions.
A Fulfilling Career
For those thinking about starting a career in mental health services, there are different types of training and qualifications depending on the role, including degree apprenticeships, distance learning or face-to-face degrees. The NHS has lots of information about the types of psychological professions that work within public and voluntary mental health services, including entry requirements and training; and NHS jobs can be found on their jobsite.
Once in a mental health job, you may look at progression and this again varies depending on the job, but opportunities can include leadership roles, mentoring, consultancy and developing the shape of services. Experience and possibly a postgraduate degree such as our distance learning MSc in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing or Mental Health MSc can help those looking to advance their career.
One thing is for sure, with a growing demand on mental health services and a great variation on roles, now is the right time if you want to change or start your career in mental health services. If you listen to those already in the sector, they’ll tell you it’s a rewarding career to follow, as Professor Tim Kendall - NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Mental Health – states in his blog:
“Working in mental health draws on everything you have to offer – but also gives you back much more: a sense of pride and achievement that only a few careers can provide.”
*Search conducted on 5th May 2023 using the key term ‘mental health’.
Are you looking for a rewarding and fulfilling career in mental health? Apply now to start your journey with ARU.
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