How to Become a Mental Health Support Worker?

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While our physical health has always been the focus, with the rise of awareness and development of healthcare science, people are now also concerned about the wellbeing of mental health.

As claimed by WHO, “One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Also, around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.”

As you can see, the number of mental health patients is increasing which is indeed alarming. To save them from the detrimental effects of their illness, we need more mental health experts and professionals.

If you are interested in becoming a mental health support worker but do not know where to start, read this blog thoroughly.

Table of Contents

Mental Health Support Worker

What is Mental Health?

As per, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” 

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests, “Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.” 

Multiple psychological, biological and social factors determine the level of mental health of a person. Among the factors, rapid social change, stressful work conditions, any form of violence and gender discrimination are noteworthy.

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Mental Health Support Worker

Who is a Mental Health Support Worker?

Mental Health Support Workers are qualified social workers who specialise and work with people dealing with a range of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mental health workers generally work alongside a multidisciplinary team which include a psychiatrist or therapist and possibly the local community mental health team. They remain responsible for assisting their clients with daily chores to help them live independently. 

The demand for mental health support workers is gradually rising. As mentioned by BMA, “In 2019 the number of people in contact with mental health services was 1.4 million. This is an increase of around 21% since 2016, when around 1.1 million people were in contact with mental health services.” 

What are the Different Mental Health Conditions that Support Workers Deal With?

There are various mild and severe issues of mental health. Mental health support workers help people facing a variety of challenges such as-

Where do Mental Health Support Workers Work?

As a mental health support worker, you can work in a range of settings such as-

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What is the Typical Day of a Mental Health Support Worker Like?

A mental health worker’s work days are never the same. Their tasks range from building relationships and responding to the emotional and physical needs of people with acute conditions to dealing with specific symptoms of mental illness, de-escalating stressful situations and helping their patients to overcome challenges.

Qualified mental health workers spend time interacting with patient’s families and other care staff to offer advice and information when needed. They also organise social events and therapy sessions to aid in promoting mental recovery. With such a variety of daily tasks, a career in mental health support is indeed an extremely rewarding one.

What does a Mental Health Support Worker Do?

The role of a Mental Health Support Worker is to provide focused, integrated care coordination for clients with mental illness and complex care needs. Their prime responsibilities include-

What are the Skills Required to be a Mental Health Support Worker?

Certain personal traits are expected to be present in a Mental Health Support Workers which are-

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How to Know if a Career in Mental Health Support is Right for You?

If you have any doubt, know that starting off a career in mental health can be both rewarding and challenging. Read on to find out if you are suited to be a mental health support worker.

You understand the importance of mental health

You need to understand the importance of the wellbeing of mental health if you desire to be a mental health support worker. Mental health issues are no joke and that’s why those suffering from emotional difficulties go through a lot. There can be times that will be tough to deal with patients, and you need to be resilient and prepared for whatever situation comes your way.

You are open-minded

It is important to be open minded and avoid being influenced by your personal ideologies in this profession. You have to take into account the social, cultural and financial factors that are affecting your patients. You also need to be non-judgmental to help your clients in their difficult journey.

You are meticulous

The ability to pay attention to the smallest of details is an absolute necessity in this field. Acute observational skills are key, as well as being well organised.

You are compassionate and possess empathy

If you have an empathetic nature, you would be able to  understand why your client is feeling miserable and why they are doing the things they are doing.

Showing empathy and compassion demonstrates to the patient the level to which they can trust you. This would facilitate the patient’s recovery.

You are a team-worker

Working as a mental health support worker means you will be working in a multidisciplinary team made up of nurses, physicians, social workers and others on a daily basis. Being able to communicate effectively and liaise with your team is essential to maintain a high level of care for patients.

How to Become a Mental Health Support Worker?

Besides being a philanthropist and a desire to become a mental health support worker, you should obtain some educational qualifications and work experience to thrive in the field. Have a look at the following steps.

Earn a Degree

You need to earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a Master’s degree in social work or a related field like psychology, to be a mental health support worker. Though it is possible to work as a mental health worker without a degree, some academic credentials will help you progress further in this sector and most importantly, will provide you an in-depth knowledge on the aspects of mental health issues.

According to ZIPPIA, 59.1% of mental health workers have a bachelor’s degree and 11.9% of mental health workers have a master’s degree. Those who are not interested in a long term education, can go for a diploma in mental health or social care subjects.

Complete Internship

Some previous experience like volunteering or internship will help you tremendously in the job sector. That is why, you should complete a social work internship or practicum which would allow you to work with clients experiencing mental health issues.

Obtain Licensure 

You need to obtain a license depending on the state in which you want to practice since every state does not require a license to let you work as a mental health support worker. The licensure requirements (apprenticeship and examination)  may vary according to state.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Mental Health Support Worker?

The time it takes to become a mental health support worker would depend on the educational route you choose. A bachelor’s degree is a four-year study and a master’ degree takes 1-2 years. Licensed mental health workers also need to complete up to two years of postgraduate practicum experience. So, it can take approximately eight years to be a licensed mental health support worker.

What are the Working Hours of a Mental Health Support Worker?

The role of a mental health support worker can be often exhausting, both mentally and physically. However, it offers enormous rewards as mental health workers work to improve the lives of their patients on a daily basis.

Mental health work is not a nine to five job since the purpose is to rehabilitate lives of emotionally vulnerable people with long-term treatment. The average shift is twelve hours and may vary between nights and days.

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How much does Mental Health Support Workers Earn?

As per,  “The average mental health support salary in the United Kingdom is £19,843 per year or £10.18 per hour. Entry level positions start at £17,939 per year while most experienced workers make up to £25,779 per year.” 

If compared between locations, it can be found that the salary of mental health workers varies. As payscale suggests, “The average salary for a Mental Health Worker in London is £22,988,  while in  Manchester it is £19,500.” 

Mental Health Support Worker Career Paths:

Mental health support workers find a range of opportunities to work in the healthcare sector. Often, a mental health support worker’s position is recognised as a stepping stone to achieve higher roles like a management role or a more specialised role.

With experience, training and specialising in different aspects of mental health care, you can explore your options and become a professional in any of the following positions-

To Conclude

Making a real difference to those with mental health problems is not an easy job; it requires a lot of patience, motivation and dedication. For the right kind of people, this field of healthcare can provide stimulation and variety in the work every day.

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