A Closer Look at a Career as a Mental Health Counsellor
Mental health issues are prevalent in Canada but are sadly overlooked. According to the latest findings by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 53% of Canadians consider mental conditions such as depression and anxiety as epidemic in the same vein as addiction and ahead of more common physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Now, the CMHA is calling for the Canadian government to come up with legislation that prioritizes mental health as much as physical health and provide access to basic mental health services and supports via the existing universal health care system.
At present, the CMHA says that over 1.6 M Canadians claim that their mental health needs are not met. With this alarming number into focus, there is certainly a need for more mental health professionals, including mental health counsellors. If this is an idea that you have come across, you can read on for more information about this profession.
Mental Health Counsellor – What You Need to Know
To start off with, a mental health counsellor’s job mandate is primarily to treat clients with mental issues. At times, the job description may also include diagnosing the client’s mental health illness. However, there is a misconception that mental health counsellors are always either psychiatrists or psychologists, which is not necessarily the case. Still, mental health counsellors need to obtain the necessary license and certification, like psychiatrists or psychologists. It should be emphasized though that the psychiatric or psychology disciplines require a higher level of practitioner’s training, as well as a lengthier clinical experience compared to that of mental health counselling.
Mental health counsellors are usually employed in clinical or hospital environments where they assist clients in working through psychological challenges or conditions. The support they provide can encompass curative counselling or approaches, and the counselling sessions can either be one on one or within groups.
While there are mental health counsellors who can provide general mental health support, typically they are segregated into various areas of practice or specializations. For example, some work in addiction centres to help those who deal with addiction issues, while some work in juvenile detention centres to provide support to underage delinquents.
According to PayScale.com, a mental health counsellor can earn between $35,159 up to $72,809 per year with potential for bonus.
To kick off a career as a mental health counsellor, it’s a requirement to at least have an undergraduate degree in psychology, sociology, or any related field, as well as completion of certifications for mental health counselling. A master’s level is a plus.
To be highly effective in this profession, one must obtain a solid field experience in working with clients and be knowledgeable in a variety of therapeutic methodologies, including cognitive behavioural therapy and solution-focused therapy. Apart from these, it’s important to have the abilities to build trust-based relationships with clients while fostering open and welcoming environments, as well as be effective in diffusing tension and mitigating uncontrollable behavior while still remaining committed to the client’s health and safety.
Pros and Cons
A career as a mental health counsellor is an important one given the sign of the times. There is real value in helping clients deal with their mental challenges while at the same time contributing to minimize the stigma associated with mental illness.
The challenge is dealing with clients who may turn in unpredictable behavior. Mental health counsellors must always know how to maintain calmness and diplomacy in crisis situations.