what is a mental health practitioner?

As a mental health practitioner, you care for patients with various mental health issues, such as eating disorders, bipolar, depression, anxiety, personality disorders and addiction. The mental health issues may require short-term interventions or long-term support. Hence, you create a treatment plan for the patients. As a mental health practitioner, you support children, youth, families and people with disabilities. Some interventions you can use to care for a patient's mental health include drug treatments or therapy options, like art or counselling services.

Mental health practitioners work in various places, including schools, prisons, hospitals and non-profit organisations (NPOs). Aside from working in hospitals and wellness facilities, you can work in community centres. For instance, some mental health practitioners provide counselling services to people from mining communities or work with the youth and older adults. Since a mental health practitioner covers multiple titles, you may specialise in various areas, including psychiatric nursing, mental health counselling or clinical psychology.

To work as a mental health practitioner, you need compassion to empathise with the needs of others. Your organisation skills are important for keeping track of patients’ sessions and progress.

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average mental health practitioner salary

The typical salary of a mental health practitioner in Australia is $68,000 per year. When you are new to the role, you start with a remuneration package of $60,000 annually. With additional experience and qualifications, your earnings increase gradually to over $75,000 yearly. The earnings depend on various factors, including the facility you work for and the area of expertise.

Your expertise determines your remuneration package. In an entry-level position, you have minimal skills. Hence, you earn a lower salary. With improved expertise, you receive a higher remuneration package. Working in community centres may also attract a different salary than in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Large hospitals have additional responsibilities for mental health practitioners and pay higher salaries.

Want to know what you will earn as a mental health practitioner? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

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types of mental health practitioners

As a mental health practitioner, you can specialise in one area of mental health problems. For instance, some mental health workers specialise in working with patients with schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. Other mental health practitioners handle issues like depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Man and woman having a conversation
Man and woman having a conversation
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working as a mental health practitioner

Working as a mental health practitioner involves helping patients with mental health conditions. Discover the specific duties and work environments in the role.

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education and skills

If you want to work as a mental health practitioner in Australia, complete a bachelor's degree in nursing or social work. Consider pursuing a bachelor of nursing or social work. The courses provide foundational skills to assist mental health patients. If you complete a bachelor's degree in social work, apply to the Australian Association of Social Workers, the representative body for social workers, before working as a mental health practitioner. If you join the profession through nursing, register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

You also require advanced qualifications to work as a mental health practitioner. Consider studying to obtain a diploma in mental health or a postgraduate degree focusing on psychology or mental health. If you have qualifications in other fields, consider getting a graduate certificate to work in mental health support.

mental health practitioner skills and competencies

To work as a mental health practitioner, you require the following skills and competencies:

  • compassion: as a mental health practitioner, you need compassion to empathise with patients. When you have compassion, you can understand the difficult situations that people with mental health problems face. You also help patients open up during counselling sessions.
  • information technology (IT) skills: as a mental health practitioner, you perform various administrative tasks, like preparing client schedules and reminding patients of their appointments. Your technical skills help you update your client notes and treatment plans.
  • understanding mental health conditions: as a mental health practitioner, you need extensive knowledge of mental health conditions. Having extensive knowledge of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders that can affect patients helps you formulate a great treatment plan.
  • attention to detail: as a mental health practitioner, you need attention to detail to observe clients keenly. When you observe the body language of your patients, you can pick up on small things and determine if they need further help.
  • social perception: as a mental health practitioner, you come across multiple cultures. Being socially perceptive helps you understand the behaviours of some patients. You will understand why patients have specific reactions to some situations.
  • problem-solving skills: working as a mental health practitioner involves handling complex situations and requires creative problem-solving skills. Your problem-solving skills help you solve the issues you face with patients and create effective treatment plans.
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FAQs about working as a mental health practitioner

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a mental health practitioner.

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