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Mental health worker

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Summary of occupation

Mental health workers are responsible for providing support and services to individuals and families experiencing mental health issues. 

This may include confidential individual, family or group counselling, support for families dealing with mental health issues or referrals to treatment for individuals.

They provide early intervention strategies, support and advocacy by engaging people with mental illness in community participation, prevention of relapse and promotion of recovery through programs such as residential rehabilitation, work in clinical settings, home based outreach and centre based programs delivered by community based non-government organisations.  This work may also involve supported employment and programmed respite care.

Mental health services are delivered within most areas of the state.

There are a range of different health care professionals offering mental health support, including psychologists, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, general practitioners and social workers who also provide mental health related support in Western Australia.

ANZSCO description: Mental health workers are responsible for providing support and services to individuals and families experiencing mental health issues.
Alternative names: Support worker
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A mental health worker needs:

  • a caring and supportive attitude;
  • good communication skills;
  • the ability to relate to people from a wide range of backgrounds;
  • patience, discretion and a high level of professionalism;
  • mediation and negotiation skills;
  • emergency response skills; and
  • ability to prioritise situations.
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Working conditions

Mental health workers may be required to work evenings, weekends or rostered shifts. They may experience stress due to interacting with clients in crisis. They also need to be on the lookout for any safety hazards that may pose risks to themselves, staff and their clients.  Positions are usually available in country and metropolitan locations.

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Salary details

On average, mental health workers, classified under welfare support workers, can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a mental health worker develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Mental health workers use standard office equipment, including computers, faxes and photocopiers. 

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a mental health worker, you usually need to complete a formal qualification in mental health or community services work.

The Certificate IV in Mental Health, Certificate IV in Community Services Work and the Diploma of Community Services Work are offered at TAFE colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia.

You can also complete a traineeship. The mental health outreach worker traineeship usually takes 24 month to complete.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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