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How to become a mental health support worker is surprisingly easy given the expertise needed to assess, diagnose, treat, and medicate people with mental health problems or going through a mental health crisis. However, a distinction must be made between a support worker and a qualified mental health worker as they are two different things.
A mental health worker has a degree and accredited clinical certification. They are psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, and social workers.
Mental health support workers typically do not have a degree and their only qualifications are via accredited training organisations providing a certificate IV (or equivalent) in mental health training.
Who Qualifies As A Mental Health Worker
People who qualify to be called mental health workers include everyone from certificate III holders having taken an RTO course through clinically licenced PhD expert specialist psychiatrists. That is a massive degree of educational and qualification difference that falls under the same umbrella.
Mental health support workers work in supporting roles that assist qualified medical staff but are not qualified to diagnose or treat people. Their role is more like a best friend and someone you reach out to when you need mental health assistance and guidance in the right direction or to the correct source to assess and diagnose any conditions.
Mental health support worker jobs can include community support workers, mental health outreach workers and mental health rehabilitation support workers.
More senior roles such as psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and professional counsellors all require a bachelor’s degree and legally licensed certification to practise in the medical field.
At no point can a mental health support worker make a diagnosis or give an assessment. They are not qualified in any manner to undertake that role. (Even if their diagnosis proves to be correct after a professional assessment has been undertaken).
What Does A Mental Health Support Worker Do
A mental health support worker cares for people with mental health issues, substance abuse, poverty, and other social problems. They assist psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors, and nurses by monitoring patients/groups, providing therapeutic assistance, directing questions to the right source, and keeping detailed patient records. Read also about peer support workers.
Tasks and duties include:
- Assessing client needs
- Monitoring client progress
- Delivering counselling (to individuals or groups)
- Liaising with other community groups and social services
- Referring clients to other support groups and social services
- Contributing to developing new services and mental health programs
- Maintaining client records
What Qualities Do You Need To Be A Mental Health Support Worker
Mental Health Support Workers are generally non-qualified people who assist social workers and nurses who specialise in helping those with a range of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
FirstAidPro offers an approved MHFA Mental Health First Aid course. Learn how to recognise the signs and give Mental Health First Aid to someone in need.
Personal characteristics and skills required to be a mental health worker include but are not limited to:
- Problem solving ability
- Non judgemental
- Exceptional listening skills
- Factual information and advice sourcing and delivery
- Keen observational skills
- Interpersonal communication skills.
- Psychosocial skills
What Skills Do You Need To Be A Mental Health Worker
If you want to elevate from a mental health support worker and become a certified and qualified Mental Health Worker, you’ll need to complete a bachelor’s degree in either nursing or social work. You’ll also need to gain some work experience in the field and pursue additional study in the mental health field.
Mental health workers help patients resolve psychological issues, provide counselling, and refer them to relevant social services programs.
- A caring personality with a thorough understanding of services offered and systems to follow
- Ability to make sound decisions under pressure and de-escalate crises
- Excellent interpersonal and listening skills
- Empathy, tact, and patience
- A calm non-threatening demeanour
- Keen social perceptiveness:
- The ability to understand why people think and react the way they do and how different socioeconomic brackets affect generalised thinking, morals, ethics and behaviours.
- Critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills
Study Pathways, Skills & Experience
Upskilled provide an accredited CHC43315 – Certificate IV in Mental Health course that will give you the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of the mental health sector, and potentially enable you to pursue a career as a Mental Health Worker provided that you undertake further study and gain your bachelor’s degree.
FirstAidPro provide an MHFA Mental Health First Aid Training Course in Adelaide for $189.00. We suggest you read the first article in this series called: Mental Health First Aid Training: Courses as well as mental health first aid refresher courses in Australia that explains what the MHFA course is about, why you should take it if you are looking for a future career in the growing Mental Health sector, and what you get out of it upon completion of the two day course.
How Much Does A Mental Health Support Worker Earn In Australia
According to SEEK, the average annual salary for Mental Health Support Worker jobs in Australia ranges from $60,000 to $75,000. For qualified Mental Health Workers, the salary can top out at $120,000 per annum. The take home amount will depend on a range of factors from experience level, qualifications and skills, and the employer.
The average estimate of hours per week worked by a mental health support worker is 41. However, more realistically up to 55 in some sectors and under some contractual clauses where required.
Future Employment Prospects
With the stigmatisation and shame around mental health conditions actively being overcome through education and a large media push, more people than ever are coming forward and admitting to having or suspecting they might have a mental health issue of concern that needs to be clinically assessed, diagnosed, and treated.
As such, the employment potential for this sector in the future is one of rapid growth and expansion across all of the mental health branches from support workers up to clinical psychiatrists. If you are considering a career in the mental health industry, then now is the time to start your journey and dip your toe into the pond with the FirstAidPro MHFA training course.