Mental health professionals are doctors, nurses, therapists and counsellors who diagnose and offer medical and physical care to individuals suffering from mental illnesses or disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and others. They work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and psychiatric clinics to schools, government agencies and private practices. There are many different types of mental health professionals, and finding the right one for you can be a challenge.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or feel that you need to seek help, the first person you should visit is your primary care doctor. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them. He or she will also examine you to see if there are any physical problems that could be causing them.
After your doctor has examined you, he or she will refer you to a mental health professional. Some of these professionals are psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, mental health counsellors and clinical social workers. All of these professionals treat the same conditions but they approach them differently. Some of them also have different qualifications and licences to practise in their respective fields.
A psychiatrist is a physician who treats mental illnesses by prescribing medication. He or she will have taken courses such as human behaviour, psychology, research, psychotherapy, statistics and mental illness. After completing a degree, a psychiatrist must have four to six years of supervised clinical experience in order to obtain his or her licence to practise.
While psychologists are licensed to prescribe medication, they typically focus on psychotherapy or counselling as a way to treat mental illness. They usually have a master’s or doctoral degree, which includes coursework such as human development and personality, research methods, abnormal psychology, counselling techniques and psychotherapy.
Counsellors, on the other hand, tend to have a more holistic approach to treating mental illness. They may use different therapeutic methods such as group therapy, individual therapy and family therapy to address a patient’s needs. For details on Mental Health Training Courses, go to tidaltraining.co.uk/mental-health-training-courses/
Some counsellors have specialisations, such as marital and family therapists and pastoral counsellors. Others have advanced degrees in specific forms of therapy such as art therapists and music therapists. They are trained to work with people who are experiencing a wide range of mental health issues and are responsible for developing treatment plans and evaluating the results of their efforts. Their responsibilities may include writing reports, monitoring and assessing progress, making referrals to other mental health professionals as needed and overseeing case management activities.