For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.
Mental health is a broad field with a wide range of career choices. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Recent studies suggest that positive mental health is positively associated with better physical health. Working with individuals and/or groups of all ages, health professionals in this field help children, adolescents and adults deal with a variety of life stresses and problems, including addiction/substance abuse; problems with self-esteem; aging-related mental health issues; family, parenting or marital problems; grief, anger or depression; and other emotional or behavioral issues.
Some mental health practitioners – specifically, professional counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses – hold advanced degrees with special training in brain function and human behavior. These professionals help patients with clinically diagnosed mental illnesses and emotional problems, and their approach to care may be purely medical, psycho-therapeutic, psycho-social or a combination of therapies.
The mental health field encompasses a variety of professions, each of which has a number of different career avenues:
Note: The American Counseling Association reviewed this overview.
Psychiatrist - DO / MD
Last updated: July 18, 2016
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