What is it like being a mental health worker?
Here at Vetro, we endeavour to end the stigma associated with mental health and as such, we have huge admiration for the mental health nurses and support workers that we work with. We know how they positively affect the lives of thousands of people each and every day and understand that even though they are working in an often-misunderstood area of medicine, mental health workers form a crucial part of the healthcare system.
What hours do mental health workers have?
The role can be exhausting, both mentally and physically but offers enormous rewards, as nurses work to improve the lives of their patients on a daily basis. Mental health work is not a nine to five role as the main aim is to rehabilitate lives and repair minds with long-term treatment. The average shift is twelve hours and varies between nights and days.
What kind of people do mental health workers support?
Caring for people with mental health illnesses presents unique challenges, unlike any other role. Patients range from very young people to very old as these conditions do not discriminate and can affect anyone at any stage of life. Studies show that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental health or a neurological disorder at some point in their lives.
With over 450 million people currently living with a mental health condition, such conditions are the leading causes of ill-health, worldwide. The most common problems are anxiety and depression with almost 8% of all people in Britain meet the criteria for this diagnosis.
However, mental health support workers often come across very extreme variations of other conditions such as severe learning difficulties, eating disorders, self-harm, schizophrenia and in some instances, psychosis.
What do mental health workers do on a daily basis?
Nurses work days are never the same. From caring for people with acute conditions by building relationships and responding to their emotional and physical needs, to dealing with specific symptoms of mental illness, de-escalating stressful situations and helping their patients to overcome challenges.
Qualified nurses often spend time interacting with people’s families and other care staff to offer advice and information when needed. Mental health workers are also expected to prepare and maintain patient records, produce care plans and risk assessments and also organise social events, therapy sessions and artistic events all in aid of promoting mental recovery. With such a variety of daily tasks, a career in mental health nursing is an extremely rewarding role.
What qualifications does a mental health worker need?
Qualifications and entry requirements are dependant on the role in question. For example, a registered nurse will be expected to hold a mental health or nursing degree qualification. However, a support worker role may not require any experience or qualifications at all. Many of our mental health support service roles are ‘no experience’ necessary.
Support work roles involve working with a wide variety of different kinds of people, so it is important to be open-minded and to have a good general knowledge of the kind of issues vulnerable people can face, as well as being able to learn quickly when presented with an unfamiliar situation as opposed to having a long list of experience or qualifications.
Good communication skills are essential and mental health support workers will need to have the patience to work with people who may have difficulty communicating. They also need basic IT skills, excellent time management skills and practical skills for helping people with tasks such as moving around, filling in forms or managing housework.
What kind of person is a mental health worker?
There is certainly a distinctive type of character that will be needed in order to be successful as an MH nurse or support worker. Some of the key characteristics are as follows:
- Trust and honesty
- Ability to be flexible and adaptable
- Problem solver
- Team player and an excellent communicator
- Able to motivate
Where can I work as a mental health worker?
The majority of mental health support workers in the UK are employed by local council social care departments or by the NHS, but work is also available within private companies and organisations such as the armed forces. Some registered mental health nurses and support workers are attached to clinics, care homes or similar institutions whilst others work in the community, visiting clients in their homes or connecting with them through community centres.
There are also employers in the voluntary sector, primarily charities, and these can provide a good route into the sector for newcomers without much relevant experience. No matter who they are employed by, support workers have the pleasure of knowing that they are doing something worthwhile and making a difference to the lives of those suffering from mental health conditions.
Why go into mental health work?
Helping some of the most vulnerable individuals in the country is why many people choose to work in the mental health sector. Similarly, careers in mental health and wellbeing often provide significant daily job satisfaction.
Alongside job satisfaction, making a real difference to those with mental health problems is arguably the main reason most people are motivated to become mental health nurses or support workers and, for the right people, this field of healthcare workers can provide stimulation and variety each and every day.
If you want to make a difference in the lives of people as a mental health support worker, we have lots of temporary and permanent work available.
If you'd like to discuss our current mental health opportunities, please fill in the form below and a member of our nursing team will get back to you.