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Mental Health Workers, also called Psychiatric Technicians, provide basic care, therapy and assistance to patients with mental illness or developmental disabilities. Mental Health Workers provide assistance with daily activities, monitor their patients’ conditions and assist in administering therapeutic care. They usually work under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse as part of a nursing team. Mental Health Workers generally work in psychiatric hospitals, and residential mental health facilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for Psychiatric technicians and aides, including Mental Health Workers, is predicted to grow by 5 percent through 2024. That will account for an additional 7,600 jobs during that period.
Mental Health Worker Duties and Responsibilities
To accomplish their primary goal of providing care and therapy to those suffering from mental illness, Mental Health Workers perform many tasks. We analyzed several job listings to identify these core Mental Health Worker duties and responsibilities.
Develop Treatment Plans
Mental Health Workers intake new patients and collaborate with other staff members to identify the issues patients are facing. They work together to develop treatment plans and strategies to best meet patient needs.
Provide Patient Care and Crisis Intervention
Mental Health Workers provide daily care and support to patients. They provide medications and other treatments to patients, under the instructions of doctors or nurses. They assist patients with daily activities, including eating, bathing and movement. Mental Health Workers must also be prepared to intervene in crisis situations, and may need to restrain patients who may become physically violent.
The Mental Health Worker must constantly supervise patients to ensure their safety and well-being. They observe patient behavior and keep meticulous records, reporting any changes in behavior or health to medical staff.
Lead Therapy Sessions
Mental Health Workers plan and lead individual, family, couples, or group therapy to address patient issues. They also develop and lead focused group activities.
Mental Health Worker Skills
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Mental Health Workers with these core skills. If you want to work as a Mental Health Worker, focus on the following.
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Excellent interpersonal skills to relate effectively with co-workers and patients
- Ability to problem solve and de-escalate crisis situations
- Experience with Individual, family, and group therapy practice
- Previous psychiatric care experience
- Ability to work a flexible schedule
- Working knowledge of clinical diagnoses for mental health population
- Computer literacy and ability to conduct data entry
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your Mental Health Worker toolbox and broaden your career options.
- Valid driver’s license
- Completion of EMT, CNA, Medical Assistant, Security Training program or equivalent
- Experience or understanding of underserved populations or substance abuse population
- LCSW/ LICSW, LMHC, or LMFT license
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Mental Health Worker Resources
We searched the Web to find the best industry resources to help you continue exploring a career as a Mental Health Worker. From thought leaders to industry groups, this list is packed with opportunities to learn, connect and engage.
On the Web
The AMHCA focuses on licensed counselors, but it provides news and career resources that would be helpful to anyone working in mental health.
Offers education and certifications for Mental Health Workers focused on substance abuse patients.
Read the latest news or join in on a forum that covers all areas of mental health professions.
Mental Health Worker Books
Learn more about what it takes to be a Mental Health Worker.
Teaches the tools needed to make clinical assessments.
A handy reference, this book provides descriptions of the mental health issues you'll most frequently encounter as a Mental Health Worker.