Mental Health Heroes: A Career Profile of Mental Health Counselors
We do a lot to stay healthy. From exercise to eating right, there is plenty of research you can do on how to keep your body in good condition. But for a long time, the health of our brains was often ignored. With the advent of mental health awareness and campaigns to address depression, anxiety, and beyond, that is changing. Yet mental health has always been a major issue. Every day, mental health counselors are helping those who are struggling. These individuals are trained to discuss a variety of topics and help their patients through a myriad of problems. It is extremely challenging, but often life-saving work.
Mental health counselors are part of the healthcare industry. They are working with patients suffering from depression, substance abuse, family difficulties, and more. Counseling comes in different forms, and may include helping patients with their way of thinking, and can occur in one-on-one sessions or in groups. Counselors may specialize in a certain area, such as young adults or families. It is the ideal profession for someone who is compassionate, patient, and a good listener. It is extremely rewarding to turn patients’ lives around, but it is far from easy to listen to people who are struggling on a regular basis. Counselors must be able to cope with that challenge.
In Canada, mental health counselors make an average annual salary of about $53,000. This can range from around $35,000 for those at the entry-level, and go up to about $73,000 for those who have been working for more than 10 years. Entry-level counselors are trained to provide services based on certain ethical guidelines and help those who are mostly functional in their lives but experiencing mild symptoms. Counselors with more experience often work with those who are struggling to a greater degree in both symptoms and functioning.
Counselors must be certified and typically require master’s-level education in the fields of counseling or human psychology in order to pursue work in the field. A degree certificate or transcript is required in order to apply for membership in an accredited body such as the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association.
Many counselors move on to other roles after 10 to 20 years of experience. These positions vary widely, but can result in more focused work and greater pay. Counselors can focus on addictions as an addiction counselor, on younger people as a child and youth worker, or on crises as a crisis counselor. Career advisors and case managers are likely to make higher salaries. Mental health encompasses many different areas of life, and therefore opens up many opportunities for people who dedicate their lives to helping others.
Mental health is far from an easy subject to talk about. Even with all the steps forward society has taken in removing the stigma of mental illness, it is still hard for many people to discuss the issue in earnest. This is why mental health counselors are critical. These individuals are specifically trained to help those who are suffering and guide them in taking the necessary steps to improve their lives. It is emotionally challenging work, but work that can make an enormous difference. Mental health counselors are the silent heroes walking among us, helping countless people suffering in silence to find stability and happiness in their lives.
Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association. “Certification.” https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/membership/certification/
Kelowna College of Professional Counselling. “How to become a Counsellor or Psychotherapist in Canada?” https://www.counsellortraining.com/how-to-become-a-counsellor-or-psychotherapist.php
PayScale. “Mental Health Counselor Salary.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Mental_Health_Counselor/Salary