If you are looking to begin or continue your career in mental health, there are many things to you need to learn before you can be classed an expert. From certificates all the way to a Ph.D., in this article we walk you through the different stages of mental health higher education.
If you intend to start your learning process within the field of mental health, but can’t commit the time to a more extended program, a Nationally Recognised Certificate could be a great place to start. There are many places that offer relevant certificates, which can often then be used as a pathway for further study (if it is something you decide you wish to pursue). An example is the Certificate IV in Mental Health. This course can be studied online through providers such as Open Colleges and includes 120 hours of work placement during which you can help develop your practical skills in the field. With a Certificate IV in Mental Health, your potential career outcomes include Mental Health Outreach Worker, Mental Health Rehabilitation Support Worker, Community Support Worker, and more.
Regarding higher education, the next step on from a Certificate IV is a Diploma. A Diploma of Mental Health can assist you in expanding your knowledge of mental health practices and give you hands-on experience in the field through relevant work experience. Similarly to the Certificate IV, a Diploma of Mental Health can provide you with job prospects such as a career as a Mental Health Worker or Alcohol and Other Drugs Worker.
Moving into university-level qualifications, there are many different bachelor degrees you could study if you intend to work in the mental health field. Some examples of such degrees include the Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) Bachelor of Nursing (Mental Health), Bachelor of Health Sciences are offered at Open University. As these degrees vary in terms of units studied and speciality, the career options differ. Some possible careers following the completion of a relevant bachelor’s degree include Youth Worker, Research Assistant, Nurse, and Mental Health Worker.
In general, if you wish to practice as a psychologist, for example, you will first need to complete a three-year Bachelor of Psychology (or equivalent degree), plus an extra year of Honours on top. After this, you will be required to complete an internship or placement within the field before becoming registered.
Successful completion of a relevant undergraduate degree (sometimes also requiring a year of Honours) will qualify you for further tertiary education such as a master’s degree. Like any further education, the post-graduate degrees available within the mental health field vary depending on the area you are interested in. Some examples of post-graduate degrees within the field include the Master of Psychology, Master of Mental Health Practice, and the Master of Mental Health Science at. With the Master of Psychology at UQ, you can choose which field you wish to study within the program, between Sport and Exercise, Counselling, and Health.
How to become a psychiatrist
If your dream is to become a psychiatrist, there are a couple of ways to go about getting there. If you are a high school leaver, you will need a pretty stellar ATAR or OP; you may need to sit the Undergraduate Medical and Health Sciences Admission Test, plus take part in an interview. You will need to graduate with a medical degree.
If you have already completed a three-or-more year undergraduate degree, you may be able to shave a few years off the process and complete a four-year medical degree, instead. Before your entry into this degree, however, you may need to sit the Graduate Medical School Admissions Test, have your GPA assessed and take part in an interview.
In both cases, after completion of your medical degree, you will need to follow a series of steps such as an internship, residency and vocational training before becoming a fully-qualified psychiatrist.
The highest tertiary level of education is the Philosophiae Doctor, commonly known as the Ph.D. As the field of mental health is multifaceted, with discoveries being made all the time, it is a difficult field to become an “expert” in, but having a Ph.D. couldn’t hurt!
With a Ph.D., you often work closely with a supervisor to research a topic you have a strong passion for. Another option is a program such as the Mental Health Ph.D. Program, which is a joint initiative between The Department of Psychiatry, Melbourne Medical School, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The Centre for Mental Health, and The Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences.
There you have it. A few of the steps for becoming an expert in mental health support see where you stand and where you can pick things up again, and be sure you will help people in the best way possible.