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What jobs are best to help adolescents struggling with mental health?

I am a sophomore in high school. I have an interest in psychology and counseling because of personal experiences and the fact that I feel like I should try to help lower the stigma around going to a counselor or psychologist as a teen and I feel very passionate about trying to keep children mentally healthy from early on. I was wondering what jobs would be best salary-wise and with my preferences (helping people around adulthood).
psychology counseling career

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Subject: Career question for you

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Kimberly’s Answer

Hi Krishna, it's wonderful to hear you want to help others and already show an interest in a specific field. There are several roads you could take that would allow you to pursue your passion. If you would like to get involved with children early in their development, you could look into being a school guidance counselor or school psychologist (good starting salary) or a social worker (not a great salary), or even a school teacher who interacts with children daily. If you're more interested in working with adults, you could look into being a therapist, social worker, or even a general practice physician (doctor). Internships are a great way to experience these jobs to see if you may be interested in that career long term. Good luck

Kimberly recommends the following next steps:

Internships, talk to other professionals in these fields, reach out to your school guidance counselor
Thank you so much! I will definitely look into some of those, and start internships. Krishna P.
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Jamie’s Answer

When thinking about about mental health care, we need to acknowledge there is not enough resources for the demand. Often people feel that cannot serve their community without at least a a masters. There are often roles individuals can pursue with specialized training and certifications (depending on the state.) This job is called a Certified Peer Support Specialist or CPSS. The peer support movement has worked to address the need for care and support as well as other "gaps" in traditional care.
Peer support specialist or recovery specialist (Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, CPRS) are folks who have struggled with similar challenges of those seeking support. The training builds on ones lived experience and with tools, we can support others who have gone through similar life experiences, primarily with mental health and substance abuse. An example of the role of a CPSS/CPRS is to support people while they learn to live with the MH diagnosis or living a life of recovery. This support is cultivated in our own experiences doing the same things. I have chosen to use the word "support" because it most broadly covers the ideals of the role. CPSS model behaviors and coach peers. Sometimes people go off to college and and 6 plus years later come out with the degrees while others spend that time experiencing and learning first hand mental health and substance abuse. Both people and their knowledge are needed.
We have peer support specialist who focus on working with people who have been incarcerated, called a forensic peer specialist as well as other specific communities.
My final point is that you don't need to study psychology in order to help others with their mental health and well being. A peer support specialist will not have the same roles and responsibilities as a psychologist, social worker etc but the role has proven extremely valuable to both those who receive that support and the peer who are there to provide it.
Thanks Jamie! Since Texas lags behind the other states in mental health services, I was surprised to learn we do in fact have a Peer Support Certification program. Good to know! Welcome to Career Village! Kim Igleheart
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Dwight’s Answer

If you’re talking about helping students in the school setting, then and Position where you get to interact and encourage students is good. The traditional lists includes being a school counselor, school psychologist, nurse, administrator and teacher. Some schools even hire professional therapists to work at the school and see students during the day. If you have a heart to help kids with mental health issues then these are the jobs for you. Some jobs have you seeing kinds more regularly than others but they are all important in their own way for supporting students in need

Good luck in your career quest.

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Kim’s Answer

Krishna,

I think this depends how deeply into the field of "mental health" you want to go. I am going to steer away from the actual psychiatry/in-patient hospital type jobs. And there are two reasons for that. One, with your own background, whatever that might be, it could be that having the burden of others' problems could be too much for you to deal with on a daily basis. As an example, consider someone whose mother was assaulted/murdered wanting to become a cop. Sometimes, it's not a good idea. Not saying it's not, but I want you to be aware of the possibility.

Secondly, I think that all of us face varying degrees of issues with "mental health" as we go through life. Removing the stigma associated with asking for help is important. But, there are "coping skills" types of situations, just as there are the more complex ones that require medical intervention. I think the coping skills is just as important.

The people I have seen who have had a really big impact on kids have been coaches, ministers, scouts, FFA programs, etc. My son suffered from mental illness, and the person he ended up bonding with was a nextdoor neighbor who gave him odd jobs to do. Adults who are in a position to build a child's self esteem, and who the child trusts, can often do more for that child than a formal counselor would. I'm not sure how all this plays out as far as a career goes. Are you into sports? Would you want to be a HS coach?

The next question is one of salary. The "best" salary will not necessarily result in the greatest job satisfaction and overall happiness. Obviously, you need enough to live on and meet unexpected expenses. This is a combination of income/benefits/ and lifestyle. I've met some very affluent people who were not very happy. But, at the other end, a lot of social service jobs don't pay enough to support even a modest lifestyle.

Since you are in Texas, here is a website you may find useful. A word of caution. When looking at salary information, there is often a big difference between "median" and "entry level." Be mindful of these two terms. Entry level is often quite low, so some sites post "median" information instead.

https://lmci.state.tx.us/

thanks for the new perspective! I'll definitely take that into account now! Krishna P.
Great points! Jamie Vegso
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