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Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional

18th June 21

As support for mental health issues and enduring disorders increases, there are a growing number of ways for you to become a mental health professional. And to make sure you’re prepared to support mental health effectively, there’s an equally growing number of courses to equip you with the necessary skills.

Becoming a mental health professional positions you to make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of others. The support you give provides a strong sense of fulfilment that other careers can lack. Which is making more people consider a career that incorporates it in some way.

The courses you need to take depend largely on which type of mental health professional you want to become. While there are more commonly known roles, there are plenty that provide mental health support that aren’t so well known.

You may well be able to move into this area of support in your current job. Or find one that combines mental health support with some of your other passions and interests.

This is the great benefit of becoming a mental health professional. As there are so many ways in which you can do it. And a lot of the opportunities you can pursue don’t require degree level qualifications.

You’re likely to be familiar with a few of these. But there are many career options that you may not realise are related to mental health.

Read on to learn more about the different ways you can professionally support mental health. And the courses that will help you get started.

learndirect - Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional

Mental Health Nurse

Mental health nurses are incredibly caring, empathetic and patient individuals. In this role, you provide person-centred care that puts the needs of your patients above all else. To do this effectively, you have to build strong bonds with the individuals you work with. In order to get to know them and identify what their needs are.

It’s a role that enables you to provide extended, ongoing support to those you care for. Allowing you to have a real hand in their progress and witnessing their improvements over time. You’ll be part of the wider team that delivers round the clock care. Becoming a pillar of strength for them in their times of need.

With your help, patients will recover from periods of mental ill-health and come to terms with their diagnosis. And you’ll be able to encourage them to actively take part in managing their challenges effectively.

You can also specialise in areas of particular interest, perhaps choosing to work with individuals with personality disorders or psychosis.

To get started, you’ll need to complete an approved mental health nursing degree. Then gain registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

You can enrol on an approved nursing degree after completing an Access to HE Diploma (Nursing).

learndirect - Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional

Teacher of Pupils with Mental Health Issues

Teaching, for some, is more of a calling than a career. But that doesn’t mean you have to choose this role over becoming a mental health professional.

Surveys have shown that almost every teacher will teach children and young people experiencing mental health issues at some point. At least 12.8% of young people aged 5-19 meet the clinical criteria for a mental health disorder. And 94% of teachers surveyed have seen an increase in pupils presenting with mental health issues.

If you’re currently a teacher or thinking about becoming one, you’re in an excellent position to provide mental health support. Pupil’s spend a large portion of their time in your company. So, having the skills to help them – whether their condition is diagnosed or not – will prove highly beneficial.

Mental health issues and illnesses are complex and wide-ranging. But there are courses you can take to learn about them in detail. And with the knowledge gained, you’ll be better positioned to recognise symptoms, triggers and ways you can provide support.

Just some of the courses that will help you are:

So, as much as you thought teaching was a separate career choice, it’s a perfect opportunity to become a mental health professional.

learndirect - Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional

Workplace Mental Health Champion

You might have thought that becoming a mental health professional meant you’d have to leave your current job. But with 1 in 6 workers facing mental health issues like anxiety, depression or stress, more workplaces are encouraging staff to become workplace mental health champions.

That’s because unsupportive working environments can be corrosive to employee mental health. Which not only amplifies the challenges of employees, it increases sick days and staff turnover, impacts morale and reduces output.

Besides identifying the warning signs of mental health issues in others, courses can help you spot negative workplace practices. Which, otherwise, you wouldn’t realise are contributing to the problem. Depending on the position you currently hold and the way you want to provide mental health support, the courses you can take are:

learndirect - Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional


If you’re drawn to talking with people and helping them manage their issues, you could become a counsellor. These are professionals trained in talking therapies that help people work through their challenges in a supportive and constructive way. And with more people visiting their GPs with mental health concerns, there is a growing demand for these services.

As a counsellor, you’ll enable your clients to manage their mental health issues and explore their behaviour patterns. Allowing them to work through negative behaviours and improve their mental wellbeing. And where clients need additional support alongside counselling, you’ll refer them to the appropriate service.

There aren’t set requirements for counselling careers, but generally, employers expect you to be a member of a professional body. Like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or National Counselling Society (NCS). And this requires you to have a qualification at foundation degree/diploma level.

If university isn’t for you, a three-stage approach is recommended for those looking to go down the diploma route.

  1. Introductory courses to counselling – such as Counselling Children and AdolescentsDrug, Solvent & Alcohol Abuse Counselling or Dysfunctional Family Counselling.
  2. Diploma/Certificate in counselling -  such as a Mental Health and Counselling Level 3 Diploma or Level 3 Diploma in Counselling Skills.
  3. Core practitioner training - at least a level 4 diploma study in counselling or psychotherapy. Providing an in-depth professional practitioner training programme to bring new counsellors to a professional level of competency. 

To become a qualified counsellor, you must complete the third stage. Courses below this stage will not qualify you as a counsellor.

learndirect - Courses to Become a Mental Health Professional

Start Working in Mental Health

No matter your career choice, you can gain the skills to support individuals experiencing mental health issues through online courses.

The benefit of online learning over classroom education is that you can complete your studies when it suits you. Rather than adhering to a pre-defined timetable. This allows you to upskill for mental health responsibilities, or an entirely mental health focussed career, outside of your current schedule.

So, if you’re working or juggling childcare with your education, you don’t need to worry. Distance learning makes education accessible for everyone.

learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider. And we’ve recently added a mental health faculty into our provision.

Find out the many courses you can take that will help you become a mental health professional by clicking below.

learndirect - Become a Mental Health Professional with an Online Course


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