Different types of mental health professionals

There are many types of professionals involved in mental health, including psychiatrists and psychologists. Depending on the condition a person has and its severity, the role of a mental health professional will vary.

Mental health is a wide-ranging and complex problem that requires various kinds of support or treatment.

There are different kinds of professionals who provide various services for mental health.

This article discusses various kinds of professionals in mental health, their services, and how to access them.

Visit our dedicated hub to discover more research-backed information to help support the mental well-being of you and your loved ones during this difficult time.

Assessment and therapy

mental health professional

To evaluate and diagnose mental health conditions and provide therapy, the following mental health professionals have the training and qualifications required.

Psychologist

Psychologists specialize in evaluating and providing psychotherapy and psychodiagnostic assessments of mental health concerns. They are not medical doctors and as treatment they do not prescribe medications.

In clinical psychology, psychologists typically have a Ph.D. and specialize in understanding the mind and human behavior. To practice, they also require a license.

There are many sub-fields of psychology, such as child or addiction psychology.

In diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, clinical psychologists have specialist training.

Psychologists can provide psychotherapy, using interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy ( DBT), to anyone with mental health symptoms.

However, medication from a psychiatrist or family doctor may also be required for some conditions. For instance, through psychotherapy alone, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are hard to manage.

Counselor

Counselors and psychotherapists are terms used interchangeably by some people. Nevertheless, although both professionals can provide talking therapy without drugs, they are different.

Counselors are clinicians of master level who provide advice and support to individuals with particular problems.

Some counselors specialize in mental illness treatment. Other counselors may address mental health related problems, such as marriage or addiction counselors.

Clinical social worker

The aim of social workers is to protect individuals ‘ rights and well-being. Depending on the setting, their roles can vary.

Some social workers specialize in the provision of support for mental health, while others offer more services for case management.

To promote emotional wellness, they can evaluate the mental health of a person and use therapeutic techniques.

Usually, they work with individuals who have complex needs. For example, after discharge, a social worker may work in a psychiatric hospital to provide psychotherapy or help individuals reintegrate back into the community.

Social work is a broad field and can in various ways support individuals with mental health issues. Some social workers, for instance, specialize in domestic abuse. To provide assistance, they may work with other mental health professionals.

Those able to prescribe medication

Medications can be prescribed by the following mental health professionals.

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in psychiatry.

A range of different types of treatments are provided by psychiatrists, including prescribing medications and psychotherapy.

A psychiatrist’s treatment can also provide general medical treatment. Many individuals with mental health conditions also have physical health issues that can be helped by psychiatrists. They will, however, typically refer individuals to other general healthcare specialists and providers.

All types of mental health conditions are treated by psychiatrists, including but not limited to:

They will adapt treatments for each person. For instance, in individuals with bipolar disorder, they might recommend psychotherapy to relieve symptoms of depression.

Some prefer to specialize in sub-fields, such as psychiatry for teenagers or forensics.

In several places, including private practices and hospitals, they will work.

Psychiatric nurse, or mental health nurse practitioner

Depending on their level of training and qualification, psychiatric nurses may provide assessment , diagnosis, and counseling for different mental health conditions.

They can prescribe medicine in some states.

Psychotherapist

For someone who performs psychotherapy, ‘Psychotherapist’ is a protected title in some jurisdictions. It is an umbrella term that includes all talking treatments and the many approaches and methods of therapy. For instance, to provide psychotherapy, a psychiatrist or psychologist must undergo training.

Different kinds of psychotherapy exist. Some individuals, for instance, prefer to specialize in psychoanalysis, which aims to understand unconscious behavioral drivers.

A GP ‘s role in mental health

Although general practitioners (GPs), or family doctors, do not specialize in psychiatry, they can still support individuals with mental health problems, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

People with any mental health disorder should discuss their symptoms with a family doctor.

For several individuals, the first point of call for treatment is family physicians. They may understand the signs of a mental health condition and work together to provide treatment or counseling with other mental health practitioners.

Some drugs can be administered by family physicians, such as antidepressants. They can also, with another mental health professional, recommend psychotherapy.

Choosing a mental health professional

When choosing a mental health professional, a person should consider:

  • their qualifications and experience
  • the area they specialize in
  • the techniques they use
  • whether or not they prescribe medication

Talking to a family doctor first to get recommendations on the best choices will help.

People with mental health problems should know what kind of therapies are most helpful.

For several conditions, including depression and anxiety disorders, psychotherapy is a common method of treatment. Psychologists or psychologists may be certified psychotherapists.

Psychotherapy is now commonly available online. Via video conferencing tools or other channels, these interactive approaches seek to provide therapy. They are easy and convenient ways of accessing timely assistance for mental wellbeing.

Some individuals often take drugs, such as antidepressants, to assist with mental health problems. These drugs may be administered by a family doctor or psychiatrist.

Counseling should be considered for individuals who are having unique challenges they need help with. Counseling, for example, may assist couples with relationship problems that can affect their mental health.

There are also several therapy resources available online. Talkspace and BetterHelp, for instance, both have online counselling, psychotherapy, or both.

Cost

Depending on the kind of mental health care, the cost varies. But this can be costly.

The cost of mental health care can be covered by health insurance policies. This could include health policies for families or employees.

Medicaid cover can also be given to those with a limited income. Online therapy can be a cheaper option for some people.

Seeking help from a mental health professional

Mental Health America highlight some warning signs that might indicate a mental health problem:

  • confusion
  • long periods of depression
  • extreme mood swings
  • disproportionate fear, worry, or anxiety
  • difficulty socializing
  • extreme changes in appetite and sleep
  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • irritability
  • suicidal thoughts
  • strong feelings of anger

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can call 800-799-4889.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Summary

An individual may be helped to understand and recover from mental health problems by many practitioners. Medications and psychotherapy may be offered by psychologists and other medical doctors. Psychologists and other mental health professionals can provide psychotherapy or counseling, but not medication.

When selecting a mental health provider, people should ask what kind of treatment they want to get. The nature of the mental health condition is also important. A family practitioner will help you through this.

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