Not yet working in mental health?
Are you a student wanting to know more about a career in mental health and wellbeing?
Victoria’s public mental health and wellbeing workforce is set to double in size by 2031. This, together with a growing emphasis on the importance of good mental health, means lots of exciting career opportunities for our next generation.
A career in mental health means the opportunity to truly make a difference. It also means working in a values-driven workforce that offers opportunities for a diverse and rewarding career.
With the flexibility to choose your setting (hospital or community), the community members you support (children/adults/older Victorians/multicultural/disabled/Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander etc), the services you provide (forensic mental health, care coordination, therapeutic interventions, clinical education and more), a career in mental health is one that can change with your changing needs.
For students, there are more supports than ever to help you in your career, including:
- Studying Bachelor of Nursing for free
- A prequalification program so you can get paid to work in a clinical environment while you study
- More supports for student placements across mental health and wellbeing services
When you graduate, the supports continue with:
- Scholarships for nursing and allied health graduates
- New graduate programs for psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dieticians, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, clinical pharmacists and art and music therapists
- Postgraduate scholarships for advanced training
Working in mental health and wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing workers come from a range of training and professional backgrounds. To ensure the safest and highest-quality services for our communities, many of our workers undertake formal training with accredited university courses.
Lived and living experience workers
Lived Experience workers draw on their own experiences of emotional distress, service use and recovery or healing, or on their experiences of supporting someone through these experiences. They are uniquely placed to build relationships that are based on a shared understanding and a drive towards self-determination, empowerment and hope.
- Lived and living experience workers do not require formal education, as their expertise is grounded in their lived experience. However, many workers do undertake a . The Certificate IV in Mental Health (Peer Work) is on the Free TAFE list at many training institutions across Victoria.
Social workers perform many important roles within the mental health workforce including working closely with consumers and families to support recovery. Social workers also provide advocacy across mental health and other systems to address external factors that impact on wellbeing, such as social and environmental issues.
Social workers often work collaboratively with other mental health professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team.
- To become a social worker, you first need to complete a Bachelor of Social Work (4 years) OR complete a Master of Social Work (2 years) and be registered with the Australian Association of Social Workers.
Mental health nurses
A Mental Health Nurse is a registered nurse who holds a recognised specialist postgraduate diploma qualification in Mental Health Nursing. Mental health nurses liaise with a range of health care providers and work as part of multidisciplinary team. They work in various settings across the full range of clinical and service settings and provide therapy with a range of different methods and approaches.
- A Mental Health Nurse is a registered nurse who holds a recognised specialist postgraduate diploma qualification in Mental Health Nursing. Enrolled Nurses registered in Division 2 must complete medication administration endorsement (EEN) and then can continue their education with an Advanced Diploma of Nursing (Mental Health)
Occupational therapists focus on promoting health and wellbeing by enabling people to participate in the everyday occupations of life including self-care activities, productive activities like education or work, and in leisure or social activities.
Occupational therapists work in a wide range of public and private settings including mental health settings, alcohol and drug services, community health centres and public and private hospitals, and many more.
- To practice as an occupational therapist you must first complete an accredited Bachelor or Masters entry level course in occupational therapy, and meet national regulation requirements as set out by the for the .
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialist expertise and experience in mental health conditions. They identify, diagnose, and treat mental conditions in addition to prescribing medications and performing mental health interventions and often work as part of a multidisciplinary team.
- To become a psychiatrist in Australia you must have a Degree in Medicine, 12 months of experience working in a hospital setting and be registered with the
- You can then apply for a Fellowship with the for accredited specialist training, which requires a minimum of 60 months of specialty practice training.
Psychologists are educated and trained in the science of how people think, feel, and behave. They provide help with issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, life crises, addiction, disordered eating, and many more.
Psychologists use evidence-based methods to assess and support the mental health and wellbeing of people. They offer such services as diagnosis, psychoeducation, talk-based therapy, and behaviour change to improve mental health and wellbeing. They also often work as part of a multidisciplinary team.
- There are two main options for working as a psychologist in Australia. You can become a psychologist or a practice-endorsed psychologist. Both have different training and registration pathways.
- To receive general registration as a psychologist requires at least six years of combined university study and applied workplace supervision and must undertake ongoing training and skills development.
- To become a practice-endorsed psychologist requires the completion of a registrar program in an endorsed practice area. Common areas of practice endorsement include clinical psychology and neuropsychology.
- For both general and practice-endorsed psychologists, you must meet the accreditation requirements of the and the , as well as meet ongoing professional development requirements.
Other allied health disciplines
In addition to the allied health disciplines already listed (occupational therapy, social work and psychology) the mental health and wellbeing workforce includes a range of other allied health workers. These include clinical pharmacy, physiotherapy, exercise physiology, dietetics, speech pathology, art therapy, music therapy and more.
Generally speaking, allied health professionals are health professionals that are not part of the medical, dental or nursing professions. They are university-qualified practitioners with specialised expertise in preventing, diagnosing and treating a range of conditions and illnesses. They often work within a multidisciplinary team to provide specialised support.
Allied health disciplines all operate with their own scopes of practice, often as part of a multidisciplinary team. Roles undertaken by allied health workers include care coordination, psychosocial therapeutic interventions and working with families, carers and supporters of consumers.
Reviewed 06 September 2023