4 Careers for Those Passionate About Mental Health

Mental health has become a hot topic, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, there is more of an interest in mental health careers and how people can help others who are struggling.

Some of those careers might be more “behind the scenes,” working on what causes mental illness. Others are more hands-on for individuals who want to work face-to-face with people. 

Whatever the case, if you’re passionate about mental health, the industry needs you. While it’s important to consider why you want a career in health,  it’s even more important to determine if you want to focus on one specific career path.

If you’re still not sure which job in the mental health field would be right for you, we’ve got four careers that will let you utilize your passion and make a difference in the lives of others.

1. Counselor

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are some of the most well-known positions in the world of mental health because they can provide such a variety of services. Not only do counselors work with children and adults, but they can also take different approaches to treatment depending on individuals’ needs or their own specialties. LPCs can diagnose and help with:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Addiction
  • Impulse control
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

A counselor can also help with anxiety. While anxiety isn’t curable, it’s extremely manageable with the right help and guidance. A counselor can help an individual discover the underlying cause(s) of their anxiety, and work with them to develop management skills for their symptoms. 

2. Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is one of the most top-tier mental health positions someone can have. That’s because they are treated as medical doctors. Unlike most therapists or psychologists, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. 

They also can diagnose more difficult and complex mental health conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

It can be difficult for someone who has gone through a traumatic experience, like domestic violence, to fully understand the effect their trauma can have on their mental health. Psychiatrists can help those individuals to process what happened, work through flashbacks, and be a guide for those people to move forward – often with a combination of medication and talk therapy.

Psychiatry isn’t for the faint of heart or for those who get attached to certain patient stories. While compassion is always important, most people who see psychiatrists are in serious need of help and relief, and it can often be quite urgent. In some cases, it can be difficult to watch what someone is going through. But, you can take comfort in knowing your responsibility is to help them so they can smile again.

Woman psychiatrist speaking with young blonde girl on grass field.

3.  Social Worker

Most people don’t immediately think of a social worker when it comes to a mental health career. But, they’re more prominent and important than you might think. If you love working with people from all walks of life, social work could be a great career path.

Some social workers specialize in mental health and substance abuse. In those roles, some of the common responsibilities include:

  • Empowering individuals
  • Working with families
  • Collaborating with therapists/psychiatrists
  • Identifying toxic behaviors

It’s not a social worker’s role to be a secondary therapist. Rather, you’ll focus on the “whole” of each individual you work with. You can help with their family life, their career, and where they fit in when it comes to their community.

A  social worker in the mental health sector can find work in a variety of places. From universities to private practices, you’ll find yourself working closely with other mental health professionals to provide the best possible services to your clients and community.

4.  Substance Abuse Counselor

While this is a fairly specialized career path, it’s an important one to think about if you’re passionate about mental health.


Because substance abuse is an epidemic of its own in the U.S.

Almost 21 million Americans struggle with addiction of some kind. Unfortunately,  only about 10% receive treatment for those addictions.  As a result, we’ve seen a rise in drug overdoses. About 130 people die each day from overdosing on opioids, and it’s a trend that isn’t slowing down. 

Now, because of the pandemic, substance abuse has become an even bigger problem as people look for ways to cope with stress, fear, and uncertainty. A substance abuse counselor uses medical intervention and behavioral therapy to help those who are addicted to change their behaviors and take back their lives. Using specialties like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), you could help someone addicted to drugs or alcohol by walking them through their negative thought patterns and behavioral issues, before guiding them through different ways to cope and change their behaviors for the better. The mental health sector needs people who not only have the education and expertise to help others but who have a passion and drive to do it. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in mental health, consider some of these options as you prepare for your next educational step.

Bryce Hall