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How to Work in Mental Health Without a Psychology Degree

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It’s essential to have a rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. While some people may view work as a means to an end – a way to pay the bills, your job should bring joy, contentment, meaning and purpose. And some careers can offer this in spades, particularly a career in mental health. Helping people with their mental health symptoms and issues can bring a deep sense of satisfaction and enrich your soul and mind.  

However, you may think that the only way to work in mental health is with a psychology degree. Luckily, this isn’t the case. There are several professions in the mental health space that don’t require a psychology bachelor’s or master’s. 

Become a psychiatric nurse

You may be interested to know that you can take some steps of becoming a nurse to work in a mental health setting. A psychiatric or mental health nurse supports patients who present with mental health issues or psychotic disorders, usually in a hospital setting such as a mental health ward located in a hospital. It is a specialised profession, and a psychiatric nurse can also support those with post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders or other issues requiring support. 

A mental health nurse typically works alongside doctors, including psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors, and other mental health professionals like support workers. In addition to their other duties, they are authorized to dispense particular psychiatric medications such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and mood stabilizers. 

Study to become a counsellor 

Another mental health career that doesn’t require a psychology degree is a counsellor. 

A professional counsellor is a trained and qualified mental health worker who uses various talking therapies to support clients. They use their skills to build a trusting and therapeutic relationship with their clients. They might help a client to quit smoking, lose weight or stop overeating, or discuss strategies to manage anxiety, depression and anger. 

Depending on the presenting issues, a qualified counsellor may use talking therapies such as acceptance and commitment therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT). For instance, CBT is quite effective in treating anxiety, depression and substance use issues, while DBT is more effective in treating personality disorders. 

The therapy type will depend on the issues the client presents upon assessment. The relationship with the client is based on respect, trust and a mutual agreement of what is helpful. 

You could become a mental health social worker

A social worker is a trained, qualified and registered allied health professional. As a social worker, you can assist people experiencing mental health disorders, stress, anxiety, or other issues. A social worker might provide case management, care coordination, counselling or referrals to other health and community services. They can also work with their clients to improve their well-being, autonomy and ability to manage life. In addition to this, they can advocate for clients to receive financial or other life assistance. 

Social workers are trained at college in social justice, modes of treatment, human behavioural models and working with vulnerable people and children. They must meet specific professional standards and be accredited by a relevant authority.

Get a job as a peer support worker

A peer support worker is a support worker with a lived experience of mental health issues and accessing mental health treatment. They perform all the functions a regular support worker would but can disclose their own experience to help build trust and rapport and to assist clients in meeting their goals. 

Often, the core qualification and criteria to become a peer support worker is your lived experience. However, other qualifications are also considered positively. For instance, you might have a lived experience but undertake a diploma in mental health, which would assist you in finding work as a peer support worker. Peer workers can make a big difference in people’s lives because they can quickly build trust, rapport and understanding with the people they work with.

Takeaway

This informative article has shared how you can work in mental health without a psychology degree. As you can see, you can become qualified to perform various roles, all of which will lead to a rewarding and enriching career in mental health.


Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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