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Interested in mental health? These are the top 5 in-demand jobs in the field

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

With the uncertainty we are all facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest research shows that depression and anxiety are on the rise in Australia. Fortunately, so is the support for mental health services. Now more than ever, skilled workers are required to fill the increasing number of vacancies in counselling, social services, alcohol and drug addiction, and community support.

If helping others through challenging times and advocating for better mental health awareness is something you’re passionate about, these five in-demand jobs might be worth considering.

1. Clinical psychologist.

Among the most respected professions in mental health, a clinical psychologist undertakes the highest level of qualification in order to assess and diagnose patients with a wide variety of mental health concerns, ranging from mild to severe.

They often work in public hospitals, community centres and private clinics but can also find work in research centres and universities. As a clinical psychologist, you will be responsible for assessing the causes of a patient’s psychological distress and developing treatment plans to help them recover or manage their long-term mental health condition.

To become a clinical psychologist, you will need to complete a postgraduate degree in psychology or two years of supervised postgraduate experience with a registered psychologist. After which, you can apply to become endorsed by the Psychology Board of Australia (this is a requirement to practice as a clinical psychologist in Australia).

Career outlook: Strong growth
Weekly salary: $1,857

(source: Job Outlook)

2. Counsellor.

young man speaking to counsellor

Counsellors are mental health professionals who focus on facilitating a positive mindset by helping their clients identify and address emotional issues or personal challenges. Their goal is to help people see their situation more clearly and develop their own understanding of what they are going through. Unlike a psychologist or therapist, they do not advise clients on what to do, they act as a guide to help the client reflect on what approach will work best for them. 

Counsellors can work in a variety of settings including community health centres, schools, organisations and government departments.

To become a qualified counsellor in Australia, you will need to complete a diploma or undergraduate degree. Upskilled’s CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling offers a pathway to entry in this profession. To work in schools, you must register with your state or territory’s teaching board.

Job Outlook data predicts over 4,000 counsellor job openings per year over the next five years.

Career outlook: Very strong
Weekly salary: $1,584

3. Drugs and alcohol support worker.

The link between substance abuse and mental illness has been widely documented. In order to effectively treat those who suffer with addiction, it is important to understand the relationship between the two. 

Drugs and alcohol support workers specifically assist people with drug and alcohol dependency and help them overcome the challenges associated with addiction and/or any subsequent or pre-existing mental health conditions. Drugs and alcohol support workers are advocates for reducing the stigma against addiction and improving access to quality information for those most in need.

The most common pathway for drug and alcohol support workers is a VET qualification, such as the CHC43215 - Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs.

Career outlook: Very strong
Weekly salary: $1,584

4. Mental health nurse.

mental health nurse comforting

The role of a mental health nurse is to provide nursing care to patients with mental disorders and illnesses. Their duties and responsibilities vary depending on where they work and who their patients are—but mental health nurses predominantly assess and provide therapy to patients with psychiatric disorders alongside other health care professionals.

The minimum requirement to become a mental health nurse is a bachelor degree in nursing and specialist experience, however some students go on to complete postgraduate studies. You must also be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Career outlook: Very strong
Weekly salary: $1,909

5. Community support worker.

If you want to help people improve their lives beyond mental health, the role of a community support worker might be suitable for you. Community support workers do not necessarily counsel or provide therapy, but they do provide physical, social and emotional support to their clients.

It is a role that allows you to be close with the people you help, assisting them with their daily duties such as bathing, dressing and cooking. Empathy is an important trait for community support workers, because this enables them to build rapport with their clients and manage their needs as they change. Community support workers work in aged care facilities helping the elderly as well as those who are disabled.

Study pathways for community support workers include the CHC43315 - Certificate IV in Mental Health and CHC22015 - Certificate II in Community Services.

Career outlook: Strong
Weekly salary: $1,328

Are you ready to start your career in mental health?

If you’re interested in mental health, these are some of the most in-demand roles in the industry right now, all of which show strong or very strong future growth.

As technology evolves, we expect to see new roles in telehealth and online counselling emerge, to cater specifically to those living in remote communities or who are physically unable to access mental health clinics.

With the right qualifications, a career in mental health presents many incredible opportunities to help change people’s lives for the better. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a mental health worker, you can chat to one of Upskilled’s education consultants to discuss your potential career in this highly rewarding field.
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