Different Types Of Mental Health Careers

By: Sarah Fader

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

If you're interested in pursuing a career in mental health, there are many roads that you can choose to go down. In this article, we're going to discuss different kinds of mental health careers. People may think "careers with psych degree; that sounds lucrative." That can be true, psychology jobs can pay well and be emotionally rewarding. There are many lines of work to consider when it comes to mental health careers. It's not just practicing therapy or providing research to an organization; there is a multitude of different ways that you can make a difference as someone who works in the mental health or general healthcare field. Maybe you pursue a career as a psychiatrist, or maybe you'll pursue a career as a pharmacy technician.

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There are many ways to fulfill your passion, help others, and make a difference in the world. If you're an empath, you could find yourself wanting to pursue a therapist career or perhaps a life coach career. Careers for empaths include being a therapist or anything related to helping other people with their feelings. When you feel the emotions of others, you want to help them. Empaths are extremely sensitive and want other people to live fulfilling lives, which is why mental health careers can be rewarding. Let's examine some of the common career paths that someone might take if they were interested in mental health.

Working in Psychology

There are clinical psychologists who are able to diagnose and treat people who have mental disorders and conditions. Clinical psychologists have doctorate degrees and are able to provide assessments to individuals to diagnose and treat them. They help people understand their behavior and manage it effectively. A clinical psychologist can practice therapy, and they can also provide research services in a designated setting, such as a university setting. As a clinical psychologist, there are many career options available to you where you can use your expertise.

Neuropsychologists are more research-oriented by nature. They're extremely important to the world because they research things that are associated with our brains, and we're learning more and more about neuroplasticity every day. Neuropsychologists are helping us discover information about the brain, how it works, and are constantly keeping us up to date on the latest information and studies.

The World of Psychiatry

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating those with mental illnesses and behavioral issues. A psychiatrist career can be lucrative and rewarding. They differ from psychologists because they can prescribe medication to treat these conditions. Some psychiatrists provide both therapy and medication, whereas other psychiatrists exclusively work with medication management. Psychiatry is a great field for people who want to specialize in helping people that are neurodiverse or who have brains that function differently in a variety of ways. They're extremely helpful in this area, so if you want to work with a diverse population of people who have mental health issues or similar conditions, the world of psychiatry might be an excellent fit for you.

Social Work

People who work as social workers typically work in organizations or non-profits. They might work in clinics, too, but they're not people who diagnose mental health conditions. They do provide therapy and can refer clients to different mental health services depending on their needs. Social workers play an integral role in terms of understanding the family, family dynamics, and providing referrals for family issues. Social workers are concerned with the community, how much of a support system a person has, and if they need referrals to get their needs met in a different capacity.

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Substance Abuse Counselors

A substance abuse counselor works with individuals who have issues with the abuse of substances such as drugs and alcohol. This individual provides counseling for their clients and helps them to maintain sobriety via therapeutic counseling and guides them towards group meetings such as alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous. They may facilitate group therapy sessions with other clients who are living with substance use disorders, and they're very vital in the community.


Nursing is a fantastic field. If you're working in an inpatient residential facility, you may help treat clients that are in the hospital under long-term care for mental illness. If you work as a detox nurse in substance abuse, you may help clients detox from alcohol or drugs and start their mental health recovery. Nurses play an essential role in society in terms of what they can do for people with mental health issues, and it's a very passionate field.

Counselors, Therapists, or Clinicians

You may be considering doing additional training for mental health after achieving an undergraduate degree. The reality is there are more options for clinicians when you move on to higher education. Pursuing a Master's degree opens up doors for mental health careers. When you have a Master's degree, there are a lot of options for mental health jobs. There are many different paths that you can choose to go down as someone pursuing a Master's degree. For example, there are LPC's who are licensed professional counselors, or there are LMFT's who are licensed marriage and family therapists. As a therapist, counselor, or clinician, you can specialize in a variety of different areas to provide specialized support.

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Clinical Social Workers

You may have heard of the initials MSW or LSCW with regard to mental health careers. MSW stands for Master's in Social Work. LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Licensed clinical social workers or LCSW's require a master's in social work, and they must complete special training in case management. Social workers can treat clients in a variety of environments. They may work in the community at job training centers, or welfare-to-work programs, the local department of human services or at a nonprofit organization. If you have an LCSW you may work with clients in private practice setting. There are many places you can find and treat clients. Social workers understand family dynamics and take sociological concerns in mind when treating clients. They're more apt to consider the cultural and economic circumstances that a client is dealing with when treating that person for therapy.

In many ways, looking at these outside factors can improve the quality of care the client receives. The social worker understands the environment where the client lives, their family dynamics, and how they relate to their support system. If there are safety concerns, an LCSW can provide referrals to a client for assistance with parenting courses, housing, or government assistance. LCSWs will be more apt to provide these referrals if they work in community-based organizations.

Family Nurse Practitioners

Family nurse practitioners provide health care for the entire unit. From giving regular checkups to assessing mental health issues, an FNP cares for all members of the family. FNPs ask questions about mental wellness in addition to evaluating physical wellness. If you're a family nurse practitioner and you see all members of the family, you have a giant piece in mental health because you're helping entire families stay mentally well and stable. This is a great pursuit if you're interested in psychology and medicine.

To be a family nurse practitioner, you need to have a Master's degree or a Doctorate's degree. You can play an extremely important part in the area of mental health in this role. A family nurse practitioner takes each member of the unit's mental health seriously. They can make referrals to psychiatrists or therapists if the parents or children have mental health concerns or conditions. Family nurse practitioners are skilled at accessing the family's health needs, including mental health and physical health.

Certified Peer Specialists or Peer-to-Peer Support

Sometimes it's nice to speak to someone who isn't a clinician to get mental health support. That's the idea behind a peer support role. A peer support specialist is someone who has lived experience with mental health conditions, whether they have them or they have a family member living with mental illness, a peer support worker can provide a shoulder to lean on during hard times. Peer support workers have a vital role in the sense that they understand what it's like from lived experience to have a mental illness and they can guide people who are in this position so that they can help them maintain support systems. They have a special sense of empathy and understanding towards the people that they work with and can touch lives in a unique way because of what they've been through themselves. Knowing that you're not alone is invaluable. Sometimes you need someone who has been through a similar experience to guide you or listen to your concerns. A peer support specialist has great listening skills. They can hear your pain and offer you caring advice. You don't have to suffer alone, and there's evidence that peer support can make a huge difference in people's lives who have mental health issues. It's worth checking out.

Getting Help

Everyone has the right to have excellent mental health. One way to achieve that goal is to seek online therapy. Our mental health matters as much as physical well-being. It's a holistic picture, and one without the other isn't enough to keep us stable. That's the idea behind integrative medicine. A provider takes into account your physical well-being and your mental health and treats both of them. Remember, if you're a licensed mental health professional, your clients matter, and whether you're treating them online or in your local area, you have an opportunity to provide them with excellent care.

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Whoever your clients are, it's important that you care about them like the counselors at BetterHelp have demonstrated. The online therapists here are passionate about helping people cope with various life stressors and mental illness. If you're someone who is seeking mental health services, online counseling can be an excellent place to get assistance with your mental health needs. Search the network of BetterHelp counselors today to find the perfect fit for you.


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