If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call or text 988 to contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.
Caring for your mental health is a crucial part of not only self-care but also maintaining a healthy overall well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and it affects how we think, feel and act. It is important to care for your mental health through all stages of life since your mental health helps determine how you react to situations, relate to others and how to interact with life.
The reality is that mental health issues are more prominent than you’d expect. According to 2022 data from Mental Health America, around 50 million Americans have experienced some form of mental illness. That is equal to about 20% percent of the United States population.
Recently, there has been a decrease in the stigma surrounding mental health, while the number of mental health resources has seen a significant increase. Although there are some attainable actions you can take to improve your mental health at home, sometimes a professional is needed to lend a hand.
Why Do We Need Mental Health Professionals?
While we are seeing an increase in professional mental health resources, there are still many individuals who will not seek treatment for various reasons. In some cases, individuals may not recognize the symptoms and mental health struggles. Some mental illnesses may be hereditary, while others are developed over time through stress, a traumatic experience, or a variety of other issues. According to the American Psychiatric Association, some common warning signs of mental illness could include:
- Sleep or appetite changes
- Withdrawal from social situations or interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Drastic mood changes- either in the form of positive or negative emotions
- Increased sensitivity to sounds, light, smells, or touch
Although we can take accountability for monitoring most of our actions, sometimes we may not realize that we are struggling. Mental health issues can take on a variety of symptoms and the onset of these can be slow to the point where a person may not recognize that they are moving down a path that can be dangerous or debilitating. Education about the signs and symptoms of mental health crises can result in potential help and assistance much earlier. This can result in many lives being saved or made better.
Begin a Career in Mental Health
The field of mental health continues to grow as more people embrace the importance of mental health support in all areas of their life. If you are interested in making mental health not only your passion but also your career, Herzing University offers several opportunities to help you get started.
Our Master of Social Work (MSW) degree is designed for non-social work bachelor’s degree holders seeking a new, rewarding career path. You do not need to have prior behavioral health or social work experience to pursue this degree pathway. The program offers a mental health concentration that focuses on how to apply knowledge of human behavior, trauma, and diversity to public and private mental health facilities. You will also discover policies and laws related to mental health systems and become familiar with the service delivery structure of public and private mental health facilities. The degree program is offered online and can be completed in as few as 24 months when attending full-time.
If you are more interested in playing a hands-on role, consider earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Once you earn your degree, you could go into several different specializations that focus on mental health. Our instruction is integrated with clinical experience to provide students with a broad, holistic, and reality-based understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a professional nurse. There isn’t a waitlist and students can complete the program in as little as three years.
Nurses who wish to expand their role can continue their education with a Master of Science in Nursing as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MSN-PMHNP). As a PMHNP you are a psychiatric/mental health specialist and have the power to give a voice to patients who are too often misunderstood. This an excellent pathway for nurses who have gained practical experience in behavioral health or worked in a community mental health facility and want to continue in the psychiatric field. PMHNPs have the expertise to diagnose and treat common psychological illnesses and disorders within their scope of practice, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and dementia. Nurses could complete the program in as few as 20 months.
Whatever career you choose, serving as a mental health professional makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Discover the impact you can have on individuals and the conversations surrounding mental health by pursuing this incredibly rewarding career.