Top Mental Health Jobs in Australia

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Massive strides have been made in the field of mental health over recent decades, with the stigma surrounding the so-called “black dog” of depression and other common mental illnesses including anxiety, body image disorders and schizophrenia lifting at the very same time social awareness has increased.

As a result, more and more Australians feel comfortable confiding in family and friends when suffering a mental illness and crucially, seeking the help of qualified professionals who are in higher demand than ever before.

With an estimated 1 in 5 Australians (20%) suffering a mental illness in any given year and up to 45% experiencing this condition at least once in their lifetime, the work of our counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, youth and social workers plays a critical role in our healthcare system, helping improve individual’s quality-of-life and the strength of our communities more broadly.

Listed below are some of the most common mental health jobs in Australia for those seeking a career caring for others:

4 Key Positions for Pursuing a Mental Health Career in Australia

Counselling Jobs: The Art of Being a Good Listener

Counsellors are often the first port-of-call for Australians suffering a mental illness, with their role being essentially that of a good listener and advice-giver.

On a day-to-day basis a counsellor’s job will typically involve sitting down with their clients to confidentially talk through any educational, emotional, social or relationship issues which are causing them distress or worry, before identifying specific therapies which may help them regain their sense of wellbeing.

Whilst counselling jobs don’t require any medical training unlike psychiatry and psychology jobs, counsellors are able to conduct basic treatments including cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy and talking therapy.

  •   Education & Training: Diploma or Bachelor or Master of Counselling (1-4 years)
  •   Professional Associations: ACA, ARCAP, PACFA
  •   Salary: $37,480 (graduate), $58,213 (median), $79,067 (experienced)

Psychiatry Jobs: Medically-Trained Experts in Human Behaviour

Psychiatrists are highly-trained medical professionals who perform one of the most complex and demanding jobs in mental health care across Australia, with their work placing them in a variety of environments, ranging from busy public hospitals, to private medical clinics and everything in between.

Given the extensive training individuals must undertake to perform this role, psychiatry jobs are at the exclusive end of the labour market and attract amongst the highest salaries in the country.

On a typical working day, a psychiatrist’s role will be to assess, diagnose and treat their patient’s mental, emotional and behavioural disorders through a variety of treatments which may include psychotherapy, medication, invasive medical procedures and ongoing rehabilitation programs.

Psychology Jobs: The GP’s of Mental Health

Psychologists are the ‘GP’s of mental health jobs’ with their skills and training allowing them to perform a role that has significant areas of overlap with psychiatrists, social workers and counsellors.

Unlike psychiatrists, they are not trained medical professionals but rather experts in the human mind and human behaviour.

Their key day-to-day duties include assessing and diagnosing mental and behavioural problems facing their clients, before recommending or providing tailored treatments which may include behavioural therapy, group therapy and one-on-one counselling sessions to name a few examples.

Psychologists are unable to prescribe medication, however they often refer their clients to fully-qualified medical professionals where necessary, including psychiatrists.

  • Education & Training: Bachelor of Psychology (3 years), followed by 4th Year Honours, followed by 1-2 Years Professional Internship (5-6 years in total)
  • Professional Associations: ACPA, APAC, APS, PBA
  • Salary: $49,414 (graduate), $70,428 (median), $120,232 (experienced)

Youth & Social Work Jobs: Giving Hope to those in Need

Young people and disadvantaged Australians are especially at risk of suffering a mental illness, particularly those who live in areas with high unemployment and other social ills.

Youth workers perform a similar role to counsellors, possessing specific training in dealing with young people who may be moody and unpredictable.

Social workers on the other hand, deal with individuals of all age groups, including the relatives of their younger clients.

Their key aim is to identify the cause of ingrained social issues, before recommending appropriate treatments. Like counsellors, youth and social workers can also refer clients to external parties for additional treatment including trained medical specialists and even law enforcement authorities where necessary.

  • Education & Training: Bachelor or Master of Social Work (1.5-4 years)
  • Professional Associations: AASW, ACWA, NASW, YWA
  • Salary: $41,216 (graduate), $58,988 (median), $79,616 (experienced)