Profiling a Career as a Mental Health...

Profiling a Career as a Mental Health Counsellor

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Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

By Olivia Condlln-Wilby

It is essential for high school students to understand the various career opportunities available. Only with this understanding can they make responsible decisions about their educational and professional futures. With that in mind, students can use this resource to explore a career in mental health counselling and understand this option a little better.

Roles and Responsibilities

Mental health counsellors work with individuals and groups to enhance their psychological and emotional wellness. That could involve substance use treatment, family therapy, safety planning, and many other forms of support. These counsellors provide safe, empathetic spaces for clients to talk about their problems (e.g., anxiety, depression, suicidality, etc.).

Their responsibilities include (but are not limited to):

  • Conducting intake interviews (i.e., collecting information about an individual and their medical history, family background, mental health, substance use, etc.)
  • Providing counselling services through talk therapy, support groups, treatment plans, and other therapeutic exercises
  • Referring clients to community supports, emergency services, or psychiatric facilities
  • Submitting assessments to schools, workplaces, child services, parole officers, etc.

What are the Benefits of a Career in Mental Health Counselling?

Mental health counselling can be a fulfilling career for those who want to help others and make a positive difference in their communities. Although it can be exhausting work, it can also be gratifying to see people feel better because of your support.

Another benefit of this career is that you can work for yourself. As a mental health counsellor, you can start a private practice – meaning that you would be your own boss. This gives you complete control over your scheduling and salary. It also allows you to focus on a specific field of practice, such as child psychology, trauma counselling, or suicide prevention.

What are the Drawbacks of a Career in Mental Health Counselling?

Providing mental health support can be stressful. As a mental health counsellor, you may work with clients dealing with abuse, poverty, housing insecurity, and substance use. You must be prepared to set aside your own emotions and focus on the client.

How Much Can I Make as a Mental Health Counsellor?

In Canada, mental health counsellors earn approximately $52,000 per year on average. At the beginning of your career, you may receive anywhere from $39,000 to $49,000. As you accumulate experience in the field, you can expect to earn up to $82,000 annually.

In British Columbia, mental health counsellors can earn up to 14.5 percent more than the national average.

Education and Experience

If you’re interested in this career path, consider pursuing a degree in psychology. You will need at least an undergraduate degree to work as a mental health counsellor.

The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association is the regulatory body for mental health counsellors. To register, you must hold a master’s degree in counselling or a related field. Additional certification criteria can be found here.

Advancement and Other Career Opportunities

As a mental health counsellor, you may advance to the position of psychotherapist, clinical manager, or clinical director. If you decide to pursue a different career path, there are many options available to you. A degree in psychology could be applied to any of the following careers:

  • Teacher or guidance counsellor
  • Researcher for governmental agency or NGO (non-governmental organization)
  • Advertising or Human Resources representative
  • Social worker
  • Correctional services or parole officer

Employment Challenges

For mental health counsellors, burnout can be a significant barrier to staying in the field. Burnout is characterized by a sense of exhaustion, hopelessness, and dissatisfaction. When you’re constantly confronted with people’s problems, it can be challenging to remain positive and energized.

In 2020, roughly a third of Canadian counsellors were struggling with their mental health. Some counsellors may decide to leave the field as a result of the emotional strain.

Career Prospects

Across Canada, mental health counsellors are expected to remain consistently in demand. Almost 19,000 job positions will become available by 2028, which should allow aspiring counsellors to find work with relative ease. It is worth noting that many mental health counselling jobs are part-time.



Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. (2017, May 18th). Canadian Graduate Programs. https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/membership/students/graduate-programs/canadian-graduate-programs/

Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. (2017, May 18th). Certification. https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/membership/certification/

Canadian Job Bank. (2021, October 5th). Mental Health Counsellor in Canada. Government of Canada. https://ab.jobbank.gc.ca/marketreport/outlook-occupation/2254/ca

Canadian Psychological Association. (n.d.). Careers In and Related To Psychology. https://cpa.ca/students/career/careersinpsychology/

CareerProfiles. (n.d.). The Advantages and Disadvantages of Being a Psychologist. https://www.careerprofiles.info/advantages-disadvantages-psychology-career.html

Glassdoor. (n.d.). Mental Health Counsellor Job Description. https://www.glassdoor.ca/Job-Descriptions/Mental-Health-Counselor.htm

Payscale. (2021, November 12th). Average Mental Health Counselor Salary in Canada. https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Mental_Health_Counselor/Salary

Smith, M., Segal, J., & Robinson, L. (2021). Burnout Prevention and Treatment. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm

Statistics Canada. (2021, February 2nd). Mental health among healthcare workers in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. Government of Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210202/dq210202a-eng.htm

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