As part of my three-part new blogging plan, every Monday from now on will be Mental Health Monday. Each week I will talk about a different aspect of Mental Health including different difficulties, approaches, self-help techniques, and what you can do to work in the field. With World Mental Health Day this week and some countries celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week starting today, this post looks at three ways that you can get involved in providing support and services to those who with mental health difficulties.
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1. Volunteer for your local mental health charity
There are dozens of fantastic charities out there that you can volunteer for to help people struggling with their mental health. Charities such as Mind, Student Minds, Samaritans, Rethink Mental Illness, Forward Thinking, YoungMinds, and The Kaleidoscope Plus Group are all leading charities in this field. By volunteering for these services you can work directly with service users and support them in a variety of ways.
Charities like Beat support those specifically with Eating Disorders and Shout supports those who are in crisis. Whether you want to reduce stigma, promote awareness, support individuals directly, or get a better understanding of mental health services, volunteering is a fantastic way to get your foot in the door.
For those of you who might be considering a career in Psychology or Mental Health, this can be a great first step in gaining experience.
2. Engage in and promote awareness days and weeks
You would be surprised how many weeks and individual days are dedicated to specific issues. If you can find one that interests you, you can link up with the charities and organisations designing it to run events or collaborate on your blogs and social media. You can also use these events to raise money for the specific services and encourage people to seek support. Perhaps your workplace or school could benefit from linking up with such services, or it could be the perfect place to hold a coffee morning to encourage talking about our mental health! Using social media and blogs to promote and support others is a fantastic way to get engaged in mental health.
By promoting awareness and engaging in events, you will also come across like-minded individuals and set up a network of mental health colleagues. Even if this isn’t a career ambition, developing connections with people who work in this setting can be incredibly useful if you want to write about a particular topic or learn how best to support those around you.
If you want to collaborate with myself either by blogging or on social media, please do let me know. I plan on posting across an array of awareness days. Stress Awareness Week is coming up in a few weeks!
3. Join the workforce!
If mental health is something you’d like to do as a profession, then you should start by considering the type of role you would like to take on. Dependent on your interests it might involve further study or training so it is worth knowing what you want to do.
If you think you would like to be a therapist or a psychologist, it will most likely require a degree either in Psychology or a specialism like Mental Health Nursing before you can go onto train in such roles. These can be achieved at undergraduate and postgraduate level. There are also training programmes such as in England we have the Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner. This is my current job and to do this I completed a postgraduate certificate and a paid placement for a year. Even though I have a bachelor’s in Psychology, many of my cohort were changing careers entirely. It is a common route for those wanting to be Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, counsellors and/or Clinical or Counselling Psychologists.
Working as a healthcare assistant or support worker in mental health is the most common entry into mental health professions. Many go on to become nurses and both work out in the community as well as in specialist psychiatric hospitals. These roles aren’t the most glamorous, can have antisocial hours, and you won’t become a millionaire, but you will come into contact with a variety of service users and mental health difficulties, as well as professionals within this broad discipline.
It is important to be aware at this point that if you wish to train as a psychiatrist, this will require a medical degree. This is not something I have much experience with other than knowing medical students and working alongside psychiatrists.
If you have any questions about my work in mental health or how else you can get involved, feel free to reach out on social media! I will be posting about careers in mental health in more detail in the future.