The field of mental health-related issues offers a broad range of opportunities in a variety of settings.
Positions exist for individuals with all levels of education and experience. Many of the occupations involve face-to-face contact with people with mental health issues or disabilities, but there are also many that do not.
Individuals who work in this field have the opportunity to work with other caring professionals, and to perform work that has a positive impact on the lives of others. Advances in scientific research and technology continue to enhance the treatment and services to this population. Opportunities in this field will continue to grow much faster than the average.
Job opportunities can be divided into clinical and non-clinical.
Clinicians provide direct service or treatment to clients with mental health and disability issues, and are available for professionals at all educational levels.
Jobs which require a high school diploma and on-the-job training, or an associate degree generally work under the direction of professionals in nursing, psychology, psychiatry, vocational rehabilitation, social work, physical rehabilitation, or adaptive technology.
They include titles such as:
Other roles require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, and in many cases a master's degree such as:
Some positions in psychiatry and psychology require doctorates, licenses, and/or certifications.
Indirect support service positions include accounting, advocacy, office management, computer and network operations, meeting planning, fundraising (development), public relations, human resources, marketing research, design and development of adaptive equipment and/or software, research, and lobbying to name just a few.
To be successful in this field the following attributes are necessary:
Ask yourself these questions:
Both monetary and non-monetary rewards are important.
The monetary rewards vary greatly from low salaries for entry-level positions, especially in small local organizations, to very high salaries in highly specialized areas such as psychology or psychiatry. Agency executive directors in large regional or national organizations may also be highly compensated. Salary ranges will also vary based upon geographic location. Salaries tend to be lower in social service and human services organizations, and more competitive in healthcare settings, research organizations, foundations and professional associations.
The non-monetary rewards may include:
The work settings in this field are highly diverse, and fall into three basic categories.
Those that provide direct treatment or service can be found at the local, regional or national level, while those that raise money or conduct research are usually found at the regional or national level.
The majority of opportunities will be found in settings that provide some type of direct treatment or service to those with mental health or disability challenges:
These facilities may be government run, or may receive some funding from government sources. Others may be funded by private or religious organizations. Here are some selected Web sites:
Work settings that do not provide direct service include advocacy groups, professional organizations, scientific and research organizations, and foundations.
Note that even if the organization offers direct service, it still probably employs staff in indirect service roles.
Here are some sites to check out:
The field of mental health and disability-related issues is very broad and the associated occupational opportunities are exceptionally diverse. Changes within the field are occurring rapidly as scientific research and technology lead to advancements in the prevention, treatment and services available to this population. It is important to understand that while one area in particular may not suit you, another might be the perfect fit providing a challenging and rewarding career. Learning as much as you can, particularly before embarking on advanced degrees and specializations, is extremely important. Here are a number of ways to find out more about this field: