Tag Archives: how to become a mental health support worker

Mental Health Support Worker

Mental health support worker job description 

Mental health support workers are an essential addition to the health care team. They are specially trained to understand how to speak with people struggling with various different  mental health problems.

Working with mental health can be draining but also very rewarding when you put what you learn into practice and see the positive effects it has on peoples lives.

Mental health support worker duties and responsibilities

  • Support individuals with mental health issues to live happy and independent lives both in their communities and homes
  • Work within a team of support workers to ensure that care plans are being followed
  • Work within the care policies, Cqc standards, health and safety standards set out by your employer
  • Use the person you supports individual care plan to ensure that he/she is being supported in the way that they want
  • Understand the mental capacity act and how it affects the people you support
  • Complete monthly reviews to ensure that the individual is progressing and find new ways to support them effectively
  • When necessary, DE-escalate the people you support using your conflict management training
  • Encourage the people you support to take an interest in work, training and community activities when reasonable to do so

Mental Health Support Worker Job Requirements

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Mental health certification level 3 or working towards
  • Able to work within a team
  • Ability to empathize with the people you support
  • Able to build professional relationships with staff and people you support without building personal ones
  • Good knowledge of mental health ailments
  • Experience in dealing with challenging behavior and a track record of DE-escalating it

Types of mental health issues you will be supporting people with

  • Mood Disorders – Depression, Bipolar, Cyclothymic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Split personality
  • Anxiety & Panic Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Substance abuse and addiction
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What is it like working with mental health as a support worker

The office politics can be unbearable – There is a lot of who said what to who. A lot of backbiting and career progressives thinking the best way to do this is to bring you down. This is unfortunately a part of the job and isn’t going away any time soon. The best thing you can do is just be as neutral as possible when someone starts complaining. 

There is such a thing as overly politically correct – To the point of alienating the people you support, your managers can crack down on what you say and how you say it. Using phrases such as “kicked off” or “wasn’t having any of it” may seem perfectly reasonable responses but it can land you in some trouble with your superiors. Unfortunately what you say seems to be more important for the motivation for saying it. This can be very robotic and can make the people you support unable to relate to you…They will eventually level it out but for now, know your politically correct phrases. Rather than “kicking off” use “presented challenging behavior” for example.

Dealing with mental illness can be draining – One of the biggest challenges for you as a support worker will be the effect that listening to peoples issues can have on you. Learning about how someone was sexually or physically abused can be really distressing. There is also the person you support in general. They can require constant attention from you meaning they will constantly be asking you questions and picking your brain about experiences and dealing with their issues.

The role attracts a lot of mentally unstable staff – Ironically enough, some of the people who think that they would be great at supporting people with mental health issues is those who have similar problems themselves. This is further from the truth of course because what the residents really need is stability and to be shown a better way of living and thinking. Staff who are unstable themselves can only add to the residents confusion about what is normal and what isn’t. 

Some settings are more intense than others – Depending on who you are supporting as well as the staff team you work with, each setting can vary wildly. For example, if you support a schizophrenic along with dealing with unhappy staff then the work environment can be unbearable. However, if you are dealing with happy staff with residents who have relatively mild mental health issues then you can expect a much more enjoyable time.

Plenty of career progression – Healthcare is one of those career choices where the sky is the limit. There are so many different avenues you can take such as management, specialisms, teaching and much more. There is also a constant demand for these professionals as well so you are more likely to have your education paid for.