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5 Skills You Need for a Career in Mental Health

See also: Resilience

When it comes to specialist careers like those in the mental health field, you are likely wondering whether you have what it takes to succeed in a role in mental health.

Whether we’re talking about youth work, counselling, couples therapy or just about anything else, there are some specific personal attributes you will need to offer to employees in order to excel in your role.

With that being said, it is good to keep in mind that the vast majority of the skills needed for a career in mental health can be developed through hard work and determination. A lot of people believe that empathy, for example, can’t be developed and you either have it or you don't – though this isn’t the case.

Those points out of the way, we have a list of the skills you need for a career in mental health, and some tips on how to develop these.

1. A Specialist Education

Right off the bat, we need to talk about education. In the healthcare fields, including mental health, it is important and often required by government regulation that you have the correct education, qualifications and and certifications to offer your services.

If you’re looking to land a role in the mental health industry, then an online course from providers like Train Smart may be something to consider. Through these types of degrees, you will be offered the chance to learn all the required material for your future role in mental health services, along with the flexibility to do these types of courses according to your own timeline.

2. Good Judgment Skills

Another important skill you will need to bring to the table in the mental health field is an excellent ability to judge and develop programmes for your clients or patients.

You need to be able to effortlessly understand and form an educated opinion on your patients and work with them to overcome any issues they may be having, and this will require a trained eye and ability to quickly form an unbiased opinion.

These skills can, of course, be developed over time and with educators online, so there isn’t too much of a need to bring these naturally, you can work on them through a course or even in workplace training.

3. An Ability to Develop Help-Focused Relationships

To the third skill you will want to work on, the relationship building attribute. As you might already know, the mental health field will often require you to develop and maintain relationships with your clients over a long period of time to both monitor and adjust treatment and lifestyle plans and determine whether they’re working, or not.

And with this in mind, you must have an adept ability to understand boundaries and also to hold your clients at a distance that enables you to be that ‘trusted’ person in their life without these boundaries breaking.

Again, this skill can be developed, though it comes naturally to many different people, so it is likely you already have this one under your belt.

4. Critical Thinking Skills

There is no secret that everyone’s lives are rather complex. Whether a child, adult, senior or couple, your work in mental health will ask that you think critically and work on treatment plans that are going to work to best provide your patients or clients with the outcomes they desire.

This means that in the workplace you’re going to need to boast critical thinking skills that enable you to quickly problem solve and work to pull together a plan that is going to be effective in guiding your clients to overcoming their life's challenges in a way that is both outcome focused and easy to follow.

Much like problem solving in other fields, such as finance or even marketing, for example, you will need to run through a number of outcomes of your plans before you make a final decision, and this means problem and predictive skills are imperative.



5. Exemplary Communication Skills

To another essential skill for a career in mental health, you’re going to need to be able to communicate effortlessly and without a hitch.

A lot of mental health roles rely on some form of verbal communicative service and so you must be able to bring the ability to speak with intent, poise and confidence to all of your clients. Added to this, you are going to need to be able to listen to their concerns with a non-judgmental ear, and it is vital that your patients and clients feel this lack of judgment.

Keep in mind that there is a big difference between listening without judgment and ‘faking’ it, and with excellent communication skills and devotion to helping others, you’re going to be in the green here.

6. Empathy and Understanding

Finally, empathy and understanding are critical skills that will make all the difference within a career in mental health. These ideas relate to the ability to understand what a person is experiencing, and the feelings that they are experiencing as a result.

A good mental health worker can communicate in a warm, calm and understanding manner, understanding how to respond to service users given their particular needs and situations.

Empathy and understanding are critical in encouraging an environment of trust and support, where positive health outcomes are facilitated. An example of where this may be true is in situations that involve depression, anxiety and distress, where empathy is crucial in identifying and meeting the needs of mental health patients.


The Takeaway

With those six key skills in mind, we hope that you have more of a glimpse into what’s required in the mental health fields and know a little more about the skills that you need to work on.

Keep in mind that all the above skills can be developed over time and aren’t always something that someone is born with, even if you’re under that impression. With the right education and a committed mindset you’ll have those five integral skills on offer in no time.


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