Mental Health Counseling
Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a distinct profession with national standards for education, training, and clinical practice. Clinical mental health counselors operate from a wellness perspective, which emphasizes moving toward optimal human functioning in mind, body, and spirit, and away from distress, dysfunction, and mental illness. Counselors also view wellness and pathology as developmental in nature and take into consideration all levels of a client's environment when conducting assessment and treatment. Counselors also frequently take a team approach, collaborating with other mental health professionals to provide the most comprehensive care possible for the client.
A person struggling with their mental health may experience this because of stress, loneliness, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, death of a loved one, suicidal thoughts, grief, addiction, ADHD, cutting, self-harm, self-Injury, burning, various mood disorders, or other mental illnesses of varying degrees, as well as learning disabilities. Therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurse practitioners or physicians can help manage mental illness with treatments such as therapy, counseling, or medication.
Prevention of a disorder at a young age may significantly decrease the chances that a child will suffer from a disorder later in life and shall be the most efficient and effective measure from a public health perspective. Prevention may require the regular consultation of a physician for at least twice a year to detect any signs that reveal any mental health concerns.
What does a Mental Health Counselor do?
Mental health counselors offer guidance to individuals, couples, families and groups who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and well-being. Many counselors approach their work holistically, using a “wellness” model (as opposed to an “illness” one) which highlights and encourages client’s strengths.
On the job, Mental Health Counselors:
- Work with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health
- Encourage clients to discuss emotions and experiences
- Examine issues including substance abuse, aging, bullying, anger management, careers, depression, relationships, LGBTQ issues, self-image, stress and suicide
- Work with families
- Help clients define goals, plan action and gain insight
- Develop therapeutic processes
- Refer clients to psychologists and other services
- Take a holistic (mind and body) approach to mental health care
The basic definition of a mental health counselor is simple. Understanding all of what the term can mean, however, is more complicated.
Mental Health is a level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness - the state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment". From the perspectives of positive psychology or of holism, mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life, and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health includes "subjective well-being, perceived self-efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence, and self-actualization of one's intellectual and emotional potential, among others." The WHO further states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work and contribution to their community. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how one defines "mental health". According to the U.K. surgeon general (1999), mental health is the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity. The term mental illness refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders—health conditions characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.
A Mental Health Counselor (MHC), or Counselor, is a person who works with individuals and groups to promote optimum mental and emotional health. They may help individuals deal with issues associated with addictions and substance abuse; family, parenting, and marital problems; stress management; self-esteem; and aging. This title excludes "Social Workers", "Psychiatrists", and "Psychologists". Mental Health Counselors are licensed professionals who help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with family and other relationships, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They communicate with clients to understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives. A Mental Health Counselor is a medical professional who helps patients achieve emotional wellness. Counselors often see patients on an ongoing basis as one part of a treatment plan. These professionals work with a variety of patients and may specialize in areas such as trauma, addiction, or youth services. The specialty may determine where a mental health counselor works. For example, someone who specializes in helping children may work in a school. However, the work is often clinical, and many professionals operate in private practices, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and inpatient facilities.